NATIONAL Restoration Party spokesperson Frank Sichone has bemoaned the current high debt stock and public service emoluments in the country.
Sichone said the country’s 40 per cent debt stock and the 50.1 per cent allocated to emoluments, leaving other sectors with less than 10 per cent of the national budget, was alarming.
“We are saddened to hear from the Head of State during his address to the nation in Parliament that currently the nation is sitting at 40 per cent debt, 50.1 per cent emoluments, leaving other sectors with 9.9 per cent. This is indeed an alarming ratio that needs immediate attention as the nation cannot see meaningful development with this high level of debt and emoluments,” Sichone said.
“The high emoluments have been caused by high salaries for ministers and top government officials gave themselves leaving ordinary civil servants with meagre salaries. This has nothing to do with ghost workers on payroll, although to some extent that variation is there. But this should have now been taken care of by the implementation of new electronic systems that have been introduced in the civil service.”
Sichone said the issue of austerity measures called for sacrifice from everyone.
He appealed to President Edgar Lungu to cut down cabinet ministers’ salaries including his own.
“We, therefore, ask the President to immediately cut down the salaries for ministers and top government officials including his salary by 20 per cent. Anyone who does not accept this action must be dropped as austerity measures call for sacrifice from everyone. The President must take the above radical decision and if possible cut on his Cabinet and must put to a stop any [further] borrowing that may increase the debt stock. We should not continue listening to good speeches without taking any action. Once this action is taken we will see a 20 per cent saving which will now go towards domestic debt servicing and payments to local suppliers and other social amenities,” said Sichone. “We hope and pray that for once the President will take our advice before we can see the 2020 national budget as this will set a tone and confirm that government is indeed serious with cost saving. The nation needs leaders who will listen to its people. That’s the only way we will develop our nation.”