Bud­get for all

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS -

THE suc­cess of the 2019 Bud­get will largely de­pend on timely and ac­cu­rate im­ple­men­ta­tion of the na­tional doc­u­ment which the cit­i­zens should own. This means that the gov­ern­ment ought to en­sure ex­pe­di­tious and pru­dent ex­e­cu­tion of the Es­ti­mates of Ex­pen­di­ture in the 2019 fis­cal space. As em­pha­sised by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mar­garet Mwanakatwe, much of the re­sources must be chan­nelled to­wards pro­duc­tion and less on con­sump­tion to avoid shocks in the econ­omy. There must be strict ad­her­ence to rules gov­ern­ing Bud­get ex­e­cu­tion while at the same time en­sur­ing pru­dent man­age­ment of pub­lic re­sources. On pa­per, the re­source en­velop looks at­trac­tive but it is the im­ple­men­ta­tion and con­trols that mat­ter the most. Se­condly, over­sight func­tions must be su­perb. The en­tire Gov­ern­ment sys­tem from pol­icy-mak­ers, con­trol­ling of­fi­cers and other se­nior tech­nocrats, mid­dle man­age­ment and down to the lower ech­e­lon of the civil ser­vice must be free of flaws. It is also im­por­tant for the of­fice of the Au­di­torGen­eral to fully em­brace in­tegrity and hon­esty in pro­vid­ing the over­sight func­tion. Pre­vi­ously, this im­por­tant Gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tion was mired in ac­cu­sa­tions of un­war­ranted ex­pen­di­ture much of which was re­ported to have gone to­wards hefty al­lowances for of­fi­cers trav­el­ling around the coun­try and in Zam­bian mis­sions abroad. Ab­so­lute trans­parency must be demon­strated at the of­fice of the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral. The con­tentious is­sue re­gard­ing debt man­age­ment will have to be tack­led head-on in 2019 as the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance will also be ex­pected to pro­vide quar­terly brief­ing about the debt lev­els – ex­ter­nal and do­mes­tic. In fact, stake­hold­ers will be more in­ter­ested in quar­terly brief­ings that will have a break­down of the ex­ter­nal debt. This way sus­pi­cion and ac­cu­sa­tions will be elim­i­nated. How­ever, the civil so­ci­ety and other stake­holder groups must be fair and sober in their crit­i­cism of Gov­ern­ment be­cause some of them have hur­riedly gone pub­lic with half-truths from un-re­searched ma­te­rial. They am­plify any ma­te­rial splashed on so­cial me­dia with­out cross-check­ing and in the end cre­ate un­nec­es­sary ten­sion in the coun­try. Some of them have gone as far as ac­cus­ing Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of grand cor­rup­tion with­out check­ing facts. There­fore, it is im­por­tant for all stake­holder groups to cor­rectly grasp con­tents of the pro­posed 2019 Bud­get, the 2018-2020 Mid-Term Re­view Frame­work and the Eco­nomic Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Growth Pro­gramme. Equally, stake­hold­ers must ac­quaint them­selves with macroe­co­nomic ob­jec­tives and the mon­e­tary and fi­nan­cial sec­tor poli­cies. Is­sues af­fect­ing the global econ­omy are also of para­mount im­por­tance for peo­ple to fully un­der­stand and re­late to what is ob­tain­ing in the lo­cal econ­omy – fuel prices for ex­am­ple. There are Zam­bians that pro­mul­gate to be cham­pi­ons in na­tional af­fairs while oth­ers have staked them­selves as as­tute cap­tains of in­dus­try. They claim to speak for the peo­ple from some dis­guised or­gan­i­sa­tions and have mostly in­flu­enced gullible mem­bers of the au­di­ence. Pub­lic dis­course should be left to peo­ple with req­ui­site knowl­edge. Ex­pos­ing one’s ig­no­rance is very em­bar­rass­ing! Al­ready, some peo­ple are busy blud­geon­ing the 2019 Bud­get left-right-and-cen­tre yet they have not read a sin­gle page to fully un­der­stand the con­tents. Some of them have de­vel­oped hype over the Eu­robond when in ac­tual fact they do not even un­der­stand the con­di­tions and when such fi­nanc­ing will be due. A good num­ber of politi­cians have dis­played their down­right ig­no­rance on eco­nomic and na­tional af­fairs. The 2019 Bud­get is a na­tional agenda; it must be looked at as such. Thus it is a bud­get for all!

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