CHIRUNDU UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima says sharp depreciation of the kwacha against the US dollar and the inflationary pressures have almost emptied the 2020 national budget.
He says there is need for finance minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu to own up that Zambia is “indeed” broke.
Syakalima was debating the Lusaka Province 2020 budget in Parliament on Thursday.
Chirundu Constituency is in Lusaka Province.
The lawmaker told the House that: “as this budget enters in 2020, there is no money in it.”
“If the current situation in the economy is anything to go by, we are in trouble. The country is in trouble! Lusaka is in trouble! You cannot have your currency depreciating at a faster rate like this,” he said. “Everything that we’ve budgeted for, Minister of Finance, will not be realised next year. Our budgets have never been fulfilled 100 per cent.”
Syakalima predicted that at the end of this year, there would be less than two per cent GDP growth.
“Now, given today’s depreciation of the kwacha, I’m sorry, Mr chairman (second deputy Speaker Mwimba Malama), Lusaka will not go anywhere, if not the entire country,” he said.
“At the level of inflation that we have today, you have nothing in your budget. You have no budget! Minister of Finance, you have to own up that your government is broke. It is broke, and broke indeed!”
Syakalima added that failure to admit Zambia’s numerous economic hardships would entail that “we’ll crash-land before we take off.”
“The things are bad in this country and the more we admit that things are wrong, we’ll be on the right side of society,” Syakalima said.
“There are problems in Lusaka Province. Honourable Minister of Finance, let us not give empty promises; Zambia is at the brink of falling apart economically, if it hasn’t yet fallen apart.”
Syakalima stressed that the 2020 national budget was: “empty [and] it will crash by April .”
He said Zambians must brace themselves for harder economic times.
“We are already in hard times this time around but let us brace ourselves for harder times,” he said, adding that people were suffering both in rural and urban areas of Lusaka Province.
“Go in these compounds and see how people are suffering! Go and look in the faces of people in all these compounds [in Lusaka]. You must have compassion…. So, I want the minister of my province (Bowman Lusambo), please desist from making other people come to your office and start dancing. There is work to be done….”
On Monday, Lusambo ‘halted’ government operations at the Lusaka provincial administration offices to allow staff to toast his birthday.
There was also some muddled dance in the minister’s office by a rounded up horde of PF musclemen.