The government should consider deferring the construction of a retirement house for President Michael Sata so that priority could be given to late presidents Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and immediate past president Rupiah Banda, Action Aid Economic Justice Project officer Kryticous Patrick has advised.
Patrick said President Sata as a serving Head of State did not need to have his retirement house budgeted for in the current Budget together when all the past presidents had not had their houses constructed.
Speaking at a joint Civil Society Organisations (CSO) post budget analysis media breakfast at Pamodzi Hotel yesterday, Patrick said the construction of President Sata’s retirement house should never have been the priority of this government because there other economic and social pressing needs that needed urgent funding.
Patrick wondered why government was in a hurry to build President Sata’s retirement house long before the expiry of his presidential term and his retirement from politics.
He explained that government should have waited until towards the end of President Sata’s term of office before starting to budget for his retirement house because the money that was going to be spent on his house could have been channeled to other needy areas in the budget.
He said there were social and economic programmes that had been underfunded because much of the resources were being directed to areas that were not top of the priorities.
“We are of the view that President Sata is still the serving Head of State and should not have been allocated money for the construction of his retirement house. Priority should be given to the three past presidents whose houses have not been constructed before President Sata could have his.
One would wonder why government is in a hurry to build President Sata a retirement house when he is far from finishing his teems of office. He has not yet retired from politics and the money could have gone to other economic and social pressing needs,” Patrick Sata.
And Patrick has appealed to government to consider reducing the size and number of foreign missions because they were a mere drain on the country’s resources as most of them was not serving the country any economic benefit.
He said it was economically and socially painful that government was intending to increase expenditure on foreign missions to over K408 million in the 2014 Budget from K330 million in the 2013 Budget.
Patrick said the increase in the allocation of money to foreign missions was not necessarily meant for the social protection services adding there was need for government to be more strategic in foreign relations so as to prioritise the country’s foreign services.