VICE-PRESIDENT Mutale Nalumango says the nation should bear with government over the removal of subsidies on fuel and electricity.
She was responding to Pambashe PF member of parliament Ronald Chitotela who wanted to know if government was aware of the implications of some of the taxes increased in the 2022 national budget.
“Your honour, you said until the economy stabilises Zambians will have to feel the pain. You justified the increase in terms of the petroleum products by removal [of subsidies] and making sure that we don’t continue borrowing. Your Honour the Vice-President, the new dawn administration is introducing legislation like the premium insurance levy increasing the cost of doing business in Zambia from three per cent to five per cent,” said Chitotela during the Vice-President’s Question Time in parliament on Friday. “When you put together the cost of the premium that the third party insurer, the taxi driver in Kaputa, in Pambashe will be able to pay probably up to 12 per cent, including the 20 to 33 per cent increase in petroleum products. Don’t you see that the end user, the consumer – the one that will be jumping in that minibus, in that Canter, in that taxi will be able to suffer the huge cost that the new legislation also is bringing into effect beginning January 1?”
In response, Vice-President Nalumango explained the long term benefits of such policies.
“It is true that some taxes will go up, but we have to look at the overall effect. This, you will agree with me, that the level we reached of indebtedness must be dealt with. And this is exactly what we are doing,” she said. “But when you pay tax where does it go? Tax goes back to the payer in one way or the other. It goes back because government doesn’t have a shop to make money from. Government has us who pay tax and then the responsibility of government is to redistribute it to needy areas, that is what tax is all about. So, the nation should bear with us. It is not for punishment but as the economy grows it will relieve the people and they will feel the change.
Right now the change should be felt, the inflation is going down; you may not feel it when you are in pain.”
Vice-President Nalumango said the government expected every member of parliament to explain the positive economic meaning of subsidy removal.
“And therefore we are asking members to help us explain when we go out there, when we rise sine die on Friday. I expect that the Honourable member for Pambashe will be able to tell the people of Pambashe that this is your money, that is why we don’t claim that this is UPND money that has built a school, no!” she said. “It is government money that is going to recruit teachers, that is going to recruit…government money. In my campaign I would ask people that, is government money your money? Some would say ‘no’, but that is our money.”
Vice-President Nalumango said it would be difficult for people to feel the benefits because of economic pain but eventually they would enjoy.
She called for support from all stakeholders, including the opposition.
“Whatever taxes we get, that is what we implore ministers and these honourable members to explain. It is what we use to buy medicines in the hospitals. What is bad is to take this tax and go to squander it like the lost son; you squander and allow certain people to unjustly spend it on wrong things,” said Vice-President Nalumango. “…Let us not live some poor people’s children without going to school because we want to have us who pay this big tax not to pay, no. Let us contribute all of us. When my honourable buys fuel, he knows he is also paying a little for that child in Pambashe to go to school. Ubulwele bulakokola ukufuma (It takes long to heal from an illness). It’s easy to come but to get rid of it is not the same. It takes time. And this is where we are going, we are in the process of healing. We know we went this way but we are going to go up and it will happen when we unite as a people irrespective of political affiliation.”