The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction has commended government for the stakeholder consultative process it has been undertaking on the National Planning and Budget Bill and its intention to table it before Parliament for assent into an Act in 2015.
CSPR says the National Planning and Budget Bill provides the opportunity for Government to empower the Zambian people through active and effective participation in the national economic & social governance of the country.
Civil Society for Poverty Reduction Executive Director Patrick Nshindano said the development of the Act has been long overdue and all past governments have failed to implement this.
Nr Nshindano has since urged government and its leadership to commit to this process and ensure that it comes to pass.
“CSPR has noted through its budget and service delivery monitoring work that among the issues that currently plague Zambia’s economic governance process are that of irrational, poor sequencing and disbursement processes for development programmes targeted at the marginalised,” Mr Nshindano said.
He said this has resulted in persistent high poverty levels, unbalanced Government expenditure with Government Personal Emoluments accounting for more than 50% of the annual revenue generated by Zambia where only 2% of the entire Zambian population are direct beneficiaries of Government Personal Emoluments.
Mr Nshindano said CSPR believes that the first step to addressing the many challenges that Zambia faces in its economic governance system is to include the citizens in the process.
“CSPR has seen that the greater the involvement of the citizenry the better the impact of development programmes. By adopting the National Planning and Budget Bill, the country will have an institutional platform of engagement that will not only encourage citizen participation but also promote transparency and accountability,” Mr Nshindano said.
He added, “One of the key aspects of the Bill is the institutional recognition of the citizen engagement structures that will be the platform of interaction with the Government on the economic governance processes.”
Mr Nshindano urged Parliamentarians and the wider public to support the National Planning and Budget Bill in order for Zambians to have their say on economic governance and to avoid the country repeating the fiscal expenditure mistakes of the past.