THE Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) has said it was expectant that the 2017 National Budget which would be presented before Parliament next month would be more action oriented towards realizing real economic diversification from mining dependent to agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors.
CSPR Advocacy and Communication Programme Coordinator Maxson Nkhoma said in a statement in Chipata yesterday that Zambia has been broadly talking of economic diversification towards agriculture and other productive sectors such as tourism and manufacturing for more than a decade, the talk which had not been coupled with real actions on part of resource allocation towards the sectors in successive national budgets for the country to fully realize the actual economic diversification.
“While it is anticipated that the 2017 national budget will seek to respond and address the current budgetary constraints and fiscal deficit caused by shocks from the falling copper prices on the international market and power deficit which consequently caused the volatility of the kwacha between 2015 and 2016,”he said.
Mr Nkhoma said CSPR expectant that Government should walk the talk on economic diversification in the 2017 National Budget by way of allocating adequate resources towards agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors if the country was to survive from the sluggish global economic growth which has affected bigger economies including Zambia currently estimated to be around 3.1 percent in 2016 compared to 3.4 in 2014.
He said CSPR was expectant that the 2017 National Budget would ensure increased domestic revenue to sustainably finance poverty reduction programmes and promote national development through increased equity in revenue collection and expenditure.
He said Zambians were too expectant that the 2017 national budget would not only set a footnote of what to expect during the five years mandate given to President Edgar Lungu but it would also demonstrate and show clear links between the policy pronouncements made by the Head of State during his inauguration ceremony held in Lusaka at which he mentioned his Government’s commitment to the growth of agriculture sector.
“The inspiring inauguration speech made by President Edgar Lungu must be clearly linked to the 2017 national budget failure to which Zambians will take his inauguration speech to be a mere political rhetoric,”he said.
Mr Nkhoma said he hoped that the Presidential inauguration speech would be linked to the national budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
He said the agriculture sector if well financed and supported in the 2017 national budget has potential for wealth creation and economic growth and could trigger robust growth of the manufacturing industry through value addition, processing andpacking and job creation.
He said Zambia must take advantage of recently declared food deficit in the SADC region by increasing crop production which could easily sale in neighboring countries and bring the much needed forex to finance national development.
“We therefore hope that government through the 2017 national budget will introduce incentives in the agriculture sector which can attract investments and encourage more people and companies to invest in the agriculture sector by way of setting up value addition processing plants across the country,” he said.
He said it was regrettable to note that Zambia has continued to export jobs to other countries by way of exporting crops in rawform instead of exporting finished products.
Mr Nkhoma said CSPR was however, pleased with resource mobilizations efforts being made by Government through Road Development Agency (RDA )with the installation of Toll Gates which should in the long-run help to cushion and sustain road maintenance works.