The Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) has praised the government for putting up several measures to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
PMRC Executive Director Bernadette Zulu has observed that it is estimated that in the current fiscal year, the pandemic will have a sustained adverse impact on the economy, leading to a downward drift in projected growth from 3 percent to -4.2 %.
Mrs. Zulu noted that the unplanned adjustments due to COVID-19 have severely impacted the country’s fiscal health with the budget performance for the period January to June 2020 registering a total revenue collection and grants amounting to K32.2 billion, 5.1 % below the 34 billion projection.
She explained that regarding expenditure, the Treasury released a total of K46.8 billion which was 7% below the projection for January to June.
On revenue performance, she said income tax collection during the period amounted to K14.3 billion against a target of 13.3 billion while K6.7 billion was collected from Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
Mrs. Zulu added that Value Added Tax (VAT) collection amounted to K6.06 billion against a target of K9.11 billion representing an amount 33.5% below the target.
Customs and Excise Duty collections were less by 15.3 % resulting in K3.53 billion collected against the projection of K4.17 billion.
On expenditure performance during the period under review, personal emoluments accounted for 26.7 % total expenditure which represents an amount of 1.1 % above the projection.
She explained that the treasury released K3.7 billion to finance general government-wide operations representing 7.9% of total expenditure, while K12.5 billion was released to cater for salaries, third-party payments and overseas allowances for staff representing Zambia abroad.
And Mrs. Zulu has further noted that during the period under review, K14.3 billion was released for debt service with external debt service amounting to K6.3 billion with principal repayments amounting to K3.3 billion while domestic debt totaled K8 billion which included K1.9 billion principal repayments on government securities.
She said in the same period releases under the social benefits category amounted to K602 million, where K550 million was released to finance the pension gap fund against an initial projection of K82.5 million.
This is contained in statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka today by PMCR Executive Director Bernadette Zulu