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2020 budget will deepen poverty, inequality – ZILARD

ZAMBIA Institute for Labour Research and Development contends that the 2020 national budget is not employment rich, not inclusive, deepens poverty and it breeds more inequality and vulnerability to many citizens.

The Zambia Institute for Labour Research and Development (ZILARD) is an autonomous labour institution guaranteed by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to assist in building trade unions’ labour research, education and policy analysis capacities for better capturing and influencing national, regional and international policy space and development.

On September 27 this year, finance minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu presented a K106 billion national budget titled: “focusing national priorities towards stimulating the domestic economy.”

In a statement availed to The Mast, ZILARD executive director Professor Trywell Kalusopa said the budget did not reflect a fundamental developmental paradigm shift that would support a narrative that aspires for real structural transformation as espoused in the flagship Vision 2030 and the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP).

The Institute noted that spending on public order and safety increased from 3.3 per cent this year to 3.8 per cent in the 2020 budget, whilst expenditure on defence rose from 5.8 per cent in 2019 to 6.2 per cent in 2020.

“For this reason, ZILARD advocates for a reduction in these budget portfolios and redistribute such an allocation to the importation of power as well as strengthen and diversify the energy mix with more support for cleaner and leaner energy such as solar and biomass,” Prof Kalusopa stated.

“This could boast productivity and employment in the immediate and long run.”

On health, Kalusopa observed that expenditure reduced to 8.8 per cent from 9.3 per cent in 2019, with most of it being allocated to infrastructure.

“We are also aware that of approximately 6,000 medical students who graduated in 2018, only 3,000 nurses and 309 doctors were recruited…” he stated.

“This shows that even with substantial investments in building new health sanitation facilities, there is still a huge employment deficit in the sector which the current budget proposals do not address. Therefore, ZILARD is of the view that government needs to redirect some funding from unwarranted infrastructure and public order spending to improve the quality of health services.”

Prof Kalusopa added that the budgetary allocation to the education sector would undermine the already existing poor quality of education.

“We observe that the 2020 budget indicates a reduction in the allocation of education expenditure from 15.3 per cent in 2019 to 12.4 per cent. This undermines the already existing poor quality of education,” stated Prof Kalusopa, further lamenting about over 50,000 teachers who are yet to be deployed by the government.

“Yet, the budget fails to speak this! The 2020 national budget is not employment rich, not inclusive, deepens poverty and breeds more inequality and vulnerability to many citizens.”

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