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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Stakeholders hail “audacious” 2022 budget, as Musokotwane explains minimal PAYE upward adjustment

Economy Stakeholders hail “audacious” 2022 budget, as Musokotwane explains minimal PAYE upward adjustment


By Stuart Lisulo

BRAVE, ambitious, hopeful, transformational and even audacious were all adjectives used by stakeholders to describe the 2022 national budget to be implemented from January 1, 2022, pending the expected parliamentary approval.

Speaking during the ZiCA 2022 post-budget analysis dinner at Mulungushi International Conference Centre (MICC), Friday evening, various stakeholders delved into the 2022 budget speech announced by Finance Minister, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, in Parliament, October 29.

The Minister delivered an unprecedented K173 billion budget expected to be passed and implemented from next year.

Among the key measures proposed by the UPND administration will include new expenditure of a staggering K350 million for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as empowerment funds; a monumental increment of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from K1.6 million to K25.7 million, signalling an acceleration of the decentralisation programme and increased expenditure in both the health and education sectors.

Government will also recruit 30,000 teachers and around 11,000 healthcare personnel next year, partly financed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) US $1.3 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) made available in August, this year.

During the ZiCA-organised panel discussion, a blend of economic and social players hailed the 2022 budget as progressive, others brave and even audacious.

Assessing the macroeconomic and social impact of the budget, Ishmael Zulu, a Policy Officer, Tax and Equity at Tax Justice Africa, expressed optimism and hope that the 2022 budget will be implemented to meet the various macroeconomic objectives.

He observed that there was sufficient political will required to achieve and implement the strategies to accelerate economic recovery.

World Wide Fund (WWF) Chief Conservation Officer, Isabel Mukelabai, , however, observed that the budgetary allocation towards environmental protection had remained extremely low.

Analysing whether next year’s budget is “green enough”, Mukelabai said that the WWF wanted government to implement a Green Jobs Strategy to create employment opportunities and boost overall job creation.

She expressed delight at the establishment of the Climate Development Fund, but questioned whether this would be operationalised and implemented to enhance environmental protection in the country.

“…In principle, the thinking is correct, but the execution is lacking,” she said.

But Mukelabai, a veteran in the NGO sector, commended government for the “bold” budget and looked forward to its implementation.

Other panellists also included Humphrey Mulenga, the Deloitte managing partner, who assessed the budget in the context of resetting the Path for Zambia’s Sustained Economic Growth, together with Dr. Patrick Chileshe who analysed the economic outlook.

Mulenga advised government to seriously address the high youth unemployment levels as a major problem that needed solving to grow the economy, while also cautioning against government’s incessant domestic borrowing to guard against rapidly accumulating the domestic debt stock.

Zambia’s total debt stock has come under immense pressure from mounting domestic debt, mainly derived from government securities at over K180 billion by June 30 compared to K143.84 billion at the end of the first quarter of this year.

But he described the budget as “transformational” in view of the tax measures proposed to take effect from January 1, next year.

Among them include the raising of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) threshold up to K4,500 from the current K4,000, the slashing of the standard Corporate Income Tax rate to 30 per cent from 35 per cent and the reintroduction of the deductibility of Mineral Royalty Tax (MRT) for corporate income tax assessment purposes, widely proclaimed as the “game changer” to stimulate further Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

And responding to various questions from the packed auditorium, Dr. Musokotwane explained why the PAYE threshold could not be adjusted higher, saying government placed a higher priority on the education sector given the higher number of beneficiaries who would benefit from subsidised education.

Government has removed tuition fees for scholars to increase the number of high school graduates.

“Obviously, it is impossible to answer all the questions, otherwise, we will be here the whole night. So, I have selected those which I think are, in my opinion, are burning. The first one is on the PAYE: ‘why did we not do more?’ And the answer is this: I am 100 per cent aware that the cost of living has escalated, and I would have really loved to do something about it. But we are also aware that there has been a lot of stress all across; the cost of living has escalated and people are stressed. At the same time, we only have so much of a resource envelope in order to give back to tax payers,” explained Dr. Musokotwane.

“What were the competing needs? They were raising the minimum threshold. But there were other competing needs, it included education, teachers, it included the fact that a lot of young boys and girls are unable to go to school, mainly because of the K600 that they were being asked to pay and, of course, many other competing requirements. So, we had to weigh, in our assessment, government paying the fees for these secondary school children, we were giving to a broader spectrum of people. The tax relief you are talking about is only relevant to people who are in employment. But when we pay school fees of children out there, the number of beneficiaries is much larger.” Story Courtesy of Suma Systems.

4 COMMENTS

  1. flag Jigga Kayama Simangulungwa (formerly Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Honeybee)

    I haven’t had a chance to read the entire budget, but does anyone know if this budget includes how to make money or it is just a spending budget? Will the spending money just come from borrowing? Seeing tax in both individuals and businesses has actually reduced.
    I prefer a budget that places emphasis on revenue as opposed to just spending.

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  2. @².Jigga you don’t need to study the UPND budget if you don’t understand crypto currency and bit coins. Even “economists” like Habazooka was yapping, and I was like what I this dull guy know about e-economy?
    There are plenty of sources of income, including tax-havens….

  3. What HH and his government are doing is exactly what they were condemning during their predecessors reign, borrowing and said they borrowed for consumption yet we have those infrastructures around the country.
    Here we are witnessing borrowing for consumptions, in those ventures which don’t produce anything I just wonder weather the IMF will allow the spending we are being told about.
    In the nutshell the IMF don’t allow their money to be used to subside commodities like fuel and other essentials like food.

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