By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
From the onset, I wish to challenge the PF administration to deny that this is not true and proceed to providing the public with a figure of how much taxpayers have lost in fraudulent public sector payroll management.
But I wish to assure the public, that the figure presented is even an understatement of the scale of the actual plunder perpetrated by this careless PF regime.
When President Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND indicated that we would deliver an unprecedented 5 year $1.5 billion personal and SME taxation reform plan, the Patriotic Front (PF) contemptuously laughed off the idea as a fantasy. We clearly indicated, that the $1.5 billion tax reform plan would be paid for through:
1. An upward adjustment of the lower tax exempt threshold from the current K3,300 to K4,000. This plan is expected to cover the losses of up to K605 per month which households have incurred since 2011 owing to surges in the prices of basic commodities and a slow down in the growth of wages.
2. A 10% reduction in the upper tax bracket from the current 37.5% to 22.5%. This is intended to motivate hard work and excellence, but also provide further relief for households.
3. Relief on business levies and taxation for qualifying SMEs for purposes of allowing them smooth transition to growth and expansion, targeting a no obligation period of up to 5 years.
A combination of these measures alone is expected to reduce household poverty and inequality by allowing families more lattitude to spend on what matters most to them – education, health, food, housing and other services such as water and electricity, whose cost has spiked under the PF.
It is also expected that SMEs will for once be able to invest in business expansion and growth without being punished for good business decision making. This is how we expect to create more jobs and generate more household based incomes at a very basic micro economic level.
Now the reason the PF are quick to dismiss such progressive reforms is because they would rather be drawing money out of the incomes of individuals, households and small businesses and into their own private pockets and other party mobilisation agendas.
We now know that over $15 million is dubiously siphoned and shared out every month among senior civil servants, ministers and the party through the irregularly management of public sector payroll. In fact, the issue of ghost workers is NOT an accident. This is a carefully threaded scheme to steal money using the employment credentials of those long retired, the dead, the transferred and those newly employed.
This is a scheme well known to Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Departmental directors and middle management civil servants. This is why it has taken over 8 years for the PF to have this conversation. In fact, it is the shrinking fiscal space and the pressure on public sector payroll that caused an internal outcry by some good civil servants about this issue.
The UPND is looking to leverage sound public financial management, cutting edge expertise and looking to achieve a less than 35% public sector wage bill of the total budget.
We want to call upon Zambians to believe that something else is different in terms of public leadership.
The kind of new normal the PF want to indoctrinate into the hearts and minds of Zambians is a fraud and a scheme that will injure and steal from many, the prospects of a better future.
2021 is the year we all decide different.