LUSAKA – The opposition Patriotic Front (PF) has “unmasked” the alleged irregularities hidden in the Zambia 2022 National Budget.
PF Vice President Given Lubinda warned that the budget is a hoax in its entirety.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka at the Party Secretariat on Wednesday, Lubinda said the National Budget is retrogressive adding that is it against the poor.
“From the outset, let me state that the budget in its entirety is a hoax as it is not correct, secondly it is an illusion as it is not tenable, thirdly it is a façade or a deception as it hides the real intention of its authors.
“Fourthly, it is retrogressive as it brings back the many gains that have been achieved, fifthly it is a breach of the fundamental campaign promises upon which the UPND was voted and sixthly and most importantly it is pro-capital and against the poor,” he said.
The party Vice President revealed that the 2022 budget has a discrepancy of K37 billion on the expenditure side, explaining that figures in a budget ought to balance first within the two aspects of expenditure and revenue.
Lubinda wondered why such an expenditure is hidden in the said budget.
The former Justice Minister said the UPND proposes to grow the budget from K119bn in 2021 to K173bn in 2022 representing an increase of 45% and yet they have proposed increases in consumption and reductions in revenue such as the Mineral Royalty Tax, corporate Tax, and customs duties.
“As though this is not enough they have decided to utilise a onetime revenue stream in the form of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $1.2bn to finance recurrent expenditure.
We challenge the UPND government to explain how these recurrent expenditures to be financed by this one-time gift shall be paid in 2023 and subsequent years,” Lubinda said.
“Has anyone assured them that this gift shall be perennial? We would like to ask the UPND Government how SDR which is meant to be balance of payment support can be transformed into budget support?
“As far as we know SDR can only be sued to finance foreign exchange payments outside the country after the government has provided the kwacha equivalent to the Central Bank. As you can see this is an illusionary budget which cannot be implemented.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda said there is no cost item that is more widely discussed in the 2022 budget than the Constituency Development Fund.
He indicated that this was poor dramatics attempting to deceive MPs and the general citizenry that there will introduce fiscal decentralisation.
“First decentralisation, by those of us who understand it is an organic process which is done gradually and systematically to allow for development of capacity and systems to support it,” he said.
“It does not happen like magic – that you get power from the centre and immediately send it to the most peripheral of the development hierarchy.
“Secondly reading the budget speech critically you will realise that the central government is simply abdicating on its development responsibilities and its fiduciary responsibility.
“It has passed on numerous central government responsibilities to Constituencies without taking into account the lack of capacity in the constituencies.
“Actually, the financial burden passed on to the constituencies outstretches the K 25.7m by leaps and bounds. It is a clear deception aiming at passing blame for government failure to MPs.”
The former Kabwata lawmaker wondered what will happen with K25.7m and with increased scope if spending K1.6m was such a time consuming process marred with irregularities as have been reported by the Auditor General’s reports.
Lubinda however disclosed that the party has instructed its Members of Parliament to educate the New Dawn government on the history and rational of the CDF.
“Now that MPs are going to superintend over and get directly involved in the implementation of government projects who shall perform the oversight function?
“This move is contradictory to the dictum of separation of power and must be stopped to curtail the intentions of diluting effectiveness of Parliament in its oversight role,” Lubinda said.
- Smart Eagles