NATIONAL Democratic Congress president Chishimba Kambwili has called on members of parliament to reject the proposed K15 billion supplementary budget as it is not prioritising the current needs of the people.
In a statement issued by NDC spokesperson Saboi Imboela, Kambwili wondered what the supplementary budget hoped to achieve.
“Is Zambia at war for them to allocate money for production of bullets? What stimulus packages have they put in place for people and businesses that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic – the bar owners, landlords who rent out such premises, the youth, women and others, to cushion the lack of jobs and income? Why not look for money to help out all these people than to start producing bullets?” Kambwili asked.
He noted that the country had over 60,000 unemployed teachers on the streets and over 40,000 trained nurses because the government says it cannot employ them because of lack of money.
“Yet they make a supplementary budget for bullets instead of employing our jobless trained professionals,” Kambwili said.
He bemoaned the lack of electricity in the country and expressed concern that Zambia had become a laughing stock due to the constant bad decisions that the PF government was making.
“They have also allocated K5.7 billion for debt servicing and have not given details of how that will be used. How much does government owe local contractors and how much does it intend to pay them from this money? Some of them have not been paid from 2016. Or is the money meant to only service the loans and not pay local contractors?” he asked. “They need to give us details. How is it that the PF has so much money to buy chitenges, mealie meal and others to give to electorates in the by-elections and yet cannot pay their local debt?”
Kambwili said he was also disappointed that the PF had politicised the mealie meal at Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) as only PF MPs are being given the food and yet their areas have not been declared as disaster areas.
“Why are they only giving the PF MPs mealie meal to distribute in their areas and they are not giving the UPND MPs? I appeal to all MPs to refuse to approve this supplementary budget because it does not represent the priorities in our economy,” said Kambwili.
In a virtual presentation, finance minister Bwalya Ng’andu proposed a K15.1 billion supplementary budget to the parliamentary budget committee chaired by Mbala PF member of parliament Mwalimu Simfukwe.
He said the Ministry of Defence had been included in the supplementary budget because the government was exploring ways of producing bullets locally rather than importing them.
He said K5.7 billion, which is 38 per cent of the excess expenditure would be dedicated to domestic debt service obligations primarily on increase in the interest rates on domestic borrowing as well as corresponding increase in the stock of domestic debt.
“Expenditures amounting to K5.54 billion or 37 per cent of the total expenditure will be allocated to expenditures drawn from COVID-19 bond. Chair, as you may be aware, government through the Bank of Zambia issued a COVID bond of K8 billion, the maturity profile of the bond is expected to be at least five years and the amortised from year seven on the basis of first in first out to encourage basically quick subscription to the bond. The proceeds will go towards domestic players in business where government owes small and medium enterprises and also in loans and guarantees to small and mediums enterprises. You may wish to note that only K5.5 billion of the COVID bond will be supplemented,” said Dr Ng’andu.