Commentaries and Analyses Index

MPs Right To Pass On Budget

LUSAKA, April 2 - It is heartening that members of Parliament (MPs) have passed the Budget which sets the stage for the country to reach the HIPC completion point.
It is a Budget that will go down in history as one that raised a lot of controversy and heated debate both in and outside Parliament.

Immediately Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande presented the Budget dubbed " austerity for posterity," there was resistance and apprehension from some MPs, workers and farmers.

Mr Magande explained that time for taking unpleasant decisions had come and there was need to implement austere measures and called on the public to sacrifice now for a better tomorrow.

The workers cried foul over the increased Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and proposed wage freeze for public service workers. Demonstration were staged country-wide to underline their displeasure of the proposals.

The farmers also raised fears that by exempting them from value added tax (VAT), they would have to pay huge sums of money especially on farm machinery and said they might be pushed out of business.

The opposition tried on more than one occasion to amend the contentious proposals but their efforts failed.

At the last time they tried, some of them threatened that they would not pass the Budget.

But even the MPs themselves have come under fire from the public for their insistence that they get their mid-term gratuity this year instead of joining the rest of the country in sacrificing so that the HIPC completion point is reached.

Indeed, it is a Budget that has generated interest and controversy.

But the good thing is that at the end of the day, Parliament has approved the Budget and what remains now is to see how it will be implemented.

Mr Magande said it was an activity-based Budget meaning it will be easy for the public to monitor its implementation and many will follow the process with microscopic interest.

He also said that there will be fiscal discipline and the public do not expect to hear of budget overruns.

We must caution here that high expectations have been raised and a lot of people hope that once HIPC completion is reached, the economic future of the country will turn for the better.

It will be a betrayal of the faith and trust of the people if results that have been promised are not achieved. This is not the first time that Zambian people are being asked to sacrifice and we expect that this time around, they will see the fruits of the sacrifice.

The Times of Zambia / allAfrica Global Media

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