The 2022 national budget is transformative
The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Honourable Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane last Friday presented the K173 billion national budget for the fiscal year 2022. This is the first budget of the New Dawn administration and the people were highly expectant of the budget. The 2022 national budget is transformative and it has set the new tone for economic growth.
Granted, the United Party for National Development (UPND) campaigned on the premise of job creation in various sectors of the economy, provision of free education and revamping of the national economy, among others.
However, the 2022 national budget has quite a number of progressive issues which are too numerous to itemise. The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has been increased from K1.6 million to K25.7 million. This increase in the CDF allocation will make it easy to implement most, if not all, the developmental projects in each constituency. Furthermore, this has cheered the lawmakers and the people in the constituencies.
The New Dawn administration is targeting to employ 30,000 teachers and 11,200 health personnel next year. Ultimately, this move will reduce the number of unemployed teachers and the health personnel. The number of unemployed teachers currently stands at 55,000.
The free Pay As You Earn (PAYE) threshold has been increased from K4,000.00 to K4,500.00. This means that any employee earning K4,500.00 and below will be exempted from paying PAYE. This free PAYE threshold is good but not good enough in that the employees and some stakeholders expected the Minister of Finance to increase the free threshold of PAYE to a higher figure than K4,500.00.
The other highlight of the national budget that has elated the learners, the teachers unions and the parents is the abolishment of the tuition, Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and the examination fees in public schools. The abolishment of the above mentioned fees will enable many pupils to pursue education.
The government has increased the grant to schools in a bid to cushion the operational costs. The move will ensure smooth running of the public schools.
On bursaries for students in the learning tertiary institutions such as the universities for instance, this will be done through the Constituency Development Fund. There will be a committee in each constituency which will be tasked with the responsibility of selecting the vulnerable students in need of the bursaries.
Over and above everything else, the 2022 national budget looks promising. It is the hope of every Zambian that the highlights of the budget will be actualised. Moreover, it has been said that formulating the budget is one thing and implementing it is another.
ELEMIYA PHIRI Lusaka.