By Nation Reporter
THE Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) has called for fiscal discipline in the 2017 national Budget if the country is to address the current economic shocks caused by low copper prices on the international market, power deficit and volatility of the Kwacha.
CSPR Luapula Province coordinator Hope Mwelaisha said the Government should ensure that the 2017 Budget looked at long term measures if the country was to maintain a predictable economic growth while maintain fiscal discipline.
“CSPR is expecting that the 2017 Budget will ensure increased domestic revenue to sustainably finance poverty reduction programmes and promote national development through increased equity in revenue collection and expenditure.
‘‘The CSPR would like to see the Budget that is linked to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework,” she said.
Ms Mwelaisha said the Budget must demonstrate and show clear links between the policy pronouncements made and the finances available to actualize President Edgar Lungu’s speech during his inauguration.
She said CSPR agreed that the tax administration system in Zambia faced several challenges such as large informal cash economy, low taxpayers compliances and complexities associated with the taxation of international transactions. Zambia Revenue Authority also faced problems of poor traceability of taxpayers, human resource and technology capacities which had limited its ability to collect taxes more efficiently. She said the Government should promote the diversification of the agricultural sector through the electronic voucher scheme that would give wider choices for farmers to grow cash crops like soya beans, rice, wheat and groundnuts and also deal in livestock and fisheries.
Ms Mwelaisha said the implementation of activities under the irrigation Development Support Programme in 2017 would enhance national food security in the country. She said it was necessary to set up fish fingering nurseries in each district but it should match with timely disbursement of funds and Government should also rehabilitate the old infrastructure and increase technical support through human resource in the Ministry of Fisheries up to the district level.
“CSPR would like to urge Government to accelerate the diversification of the economy, particularly agriculture, energy, tourism and agro- processing, and we also commend Government for the adjustments made due to the challenging economic environment,” she said.
She said the Government should ensure that the macro-economic policies, targets, sectoral objectives and strategies for the 2017 Budget were targeted at sustaining socio-economic progress while ensuring a fiscally prudent path.