• Government’s Economic Transformation Programme will focus on job creation, value addition in key sectors.
• The budget has demonstrated the government’s willingness and zeal to improve the wellbeing of the poor.
• However, the social sector allocations remain vulnerable, hence the need for government to allocate more funds.
Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) says the 2023 budget provides an excellent opportunity for growth and development through a people centered strategy, therefore its implementation is critical.
In a statement, Centre Programmes Manager Muchimba Siamachoka noted that Government’s Economic Transformation Programme will focus on job creation, value addition in key sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Ms. Siamachoka said the budget has demonstrated increased efforts to reduce developmental inequalities by increasing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from the current K25.7 million to K28.3 million per constituency, which entails directing more resources to the grassroots.
She stated that it is commendable that the national budget presents the highest social protection trends in the last five years standing at 4.9 percent, representing 1.3 percent increment compared to the 2022 allocation.
“The Minister made a number of pronouncements in this budget that, if well implemented, will result in improved livelihood and welfare for the Zambian people. Furthermore, the budget has demonstrated the government’s willingness and zeal to improve the wellbeing of the poor and marginalized through key policy pronouncements.”
“Notable measures aimed at improving citizens’ well-being include the reintroduction of student meal allowances, the hiring of 256 extension officers and the purchase of equipment, the introduction of infield irrigation and a comprehensive agriculture support program, as well as the development of farming blocks, the scaling up of Social Cash Transfer programme, the payment of terminal benefits to retirees within three months, and the hiring of 4,500 teachers and 3000 health workers,” Ms. Siamachoka noted.
Ms. Siamachoka also said the allocation to the social sector in the national budget for 2023 has made significant progress toward realizing the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP) pillar two on human and social development.
She however observed that the social sector allocations remain vulnerable, hence the need for government to allocate more funds to ensure the inclusion of people living with disabilities, especially in education, social protection and health.
“Furthermore, as Zambia is signatory to various international standards such as the Maputo and Abuja Declarations which state that member countries allocate 10 percent and 15 percent of the National budgets towards Agriculture and Health respectively. The 2023 budget allocation falls short of both protocols, which stand at 6.7percent and 10.4percent of the national budget for agriculture and health respectively.”
“A similar scenario is presented with the education sector budget whose ideal threshold is prescribed at 20 percent as per Incheon Declaration. The education sector budget stands at 13.9 percent. The point of emphasis remains that it is important,” she added.
Government has proposed to spend K167.3 billion and in order to support this expenditure, K111.6 billion will be raised as domestic revenue, K1.7 billion as grants from Cooperating Partners and K54.0 billion as financing.