By Irvin Muyumbwa
OPPOSITION Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) has charged that the UPND 2022 national budget with a proposed expenditure of K173 billion is bloated and contains increased allocation to charitable programs.
PeP President Sean Tembo said the 2022 budget represents about 37.1 percent of GDP and a further 44.6 percent increase from the 2021 proposed expenditure of K119.6 billion.
Mr Tembo said it was unreasonable to grow the country’s expenditure by 44.6 percent when the economy has contracted and as such, the behaviour is reckless given how passionately President Hakainde Hichilema spoke about fiscal discipline while in the opposition.
Mr Tembo also said the allocation to charitable programs such as Farmer Input Support GB Program and Social Cash Transfer is at the expense of economic empowerment for the citizen which is the solution and not charity.
Mr Tembo was speaking in Lusaka yesterday when he presented the PeP 2022 alternative national budget under the theme; “Achieving Economic Growth and Creating Jobs Without Borrowing” with a proposed total expenditure of K163.8 billion.
And Mr Tembo bemoaned the failure by the new dawn government in the 2022 budget presentation to provide policy direction on the on-going liquidation of KCM and the purchase agreement for Mopani.
He said this policy uncertainty around the two mines has dire consequences hence, the Minister of Finance and National Planning Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane should have addressed the issue of whether or not government will proceed with the attempted liquidation of KCM, as well as whether or not government will proceed with the purchase of Mopani.
Mr Tembo also said despite the minister acknowledging in his budget that copper prices on the world market have significantly risen to an average US$9,194 per metric tonne in 2021, he failed to explain why, with copper prices being that high, his new dawn government did not provide policy direction on the two mines.
Meanwhile, PeP Vice President Henry Muleya said the alternative budget answers to why the country becomes poorer with time and it was also a demonstration core value of courage and accountability as an opposition party.
Mr Muleya also bemoaned that 57 years after independence, Zambia is nowhere near economic prosperity but is instead a third world country with increasing levels of poverty, squalor, political violence, disease, corruption and a total lack of vision.