The former ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has said that the United Party for National Development (UPND) budget presented to parliament last week, in its entirety, is not only a hoax but also an illusion that is not tenable and a deception hiding the real intention of its authors.
Speaking at a media briefing today, the party’s Vice President Given Lubinda further said that the 2022 budget is retrogressive as it rolls back the many gains that have been achieved and are a total breach of the fundamental campaign promises upon which the UPND was voted.
Mr. Lubinda said that most importantly that the 2022 budget is pro-capital and against the poor.
Mr. Lubinda said that the figures in a budget ought to balance first within the two aspects namely the expenditure side and within the revenue side and between the two aspects and as the nation had already been made aware, the 2022 budget has a discrepancy of K37bn on the expenditure side and question why such expenditure was hidden.
Mr Lubinda also wondered the drastic increase of the budget from K119bn in 2021 to K 173bn in 2022 representing an increase of 45% and yet UPND have proposed increases in consumption and reductions in revenue such as the Mineral Royalty Tax, Corporate Tax, and customs duties.
“As though this is not enough they have decided to utilise a onetime revenue stream in the form of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $1.2bn to finance recurrent expenditure.
“We challenge the UPND government to explain how these recurrent expenditures to be financed by this one-time gift shall be paid in 2023 and subsequent years.
“Has anyone assured them that this gift shall be perennial?” he asked.
Mr. Lubinda said that this was is an illusionary budget that cannot be implemented.
“We would like to ask the UPND Government how SDR which is meant to be the balance of payment support can be transformed into budget support?
“As far as we know SDR can only be sued to finance foreign exchange payments outside the country after the government has provided the kwacha equivalent to the Central Bank, he said.
Mr Lubinda accused UPND of being anti-poor by increasing the tax-free threshold by a meagre K 500 which translates in savings of only K 50 and at the same time they have reduced standard corporate tax from 35% to 30% and have made Mineral Royalty Tax-deductible thereby introducing a revenue loss of more than $600m (more than K 10.2bn) in 2022 alone.
“This amount given to capital owners is almost double what this regime is allocating to Social protection through Social Cash transfer (K3.1m), Public Service pension fund (K2m) and Food Security Pack (K1m).
“This is money they are putting in the owners of capital at the expense of the poor Zambians. Going further, this regime has decided to subsidise the export of maize to the eventual benefit of the importers by removing 10% export duty on maize.
“Their promise to reduce the price of mealie meal is to be fulfilled in the DRC which imports maize from Zambia.
“How will this increase the price of maize to the poor small scale famers?, he asked.
Mr Lubinda wondered how many small scale famers export maize and said that, rather than encouraging value addition on maize by maintain the 10% customs duty this measure shall encourage the setting up of milling plants in the countries that import maize from Zambia and accused UPND of is exporting the much-needed jobs