The current high cost of living which has hit many Zambians has prompted government to focus its energy on addressing it in the presentation of the 2024 national budget.
The budget size for 2024 has been pegged at K180 billion.
The budget delivered under the theme: “Unlocking Economic Potential” seeks ways of lowering the cost of living by addressing the high mealie meal prices and fuel while growing the economy to 4.8 percent in 2024.
The budget size presented was higher by K12.7 billion when compared to K167.3 billion for 2023.
Finance and National Planning Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, while delivering the budget in Parliament on Friday, noted that government was aware of the current high cost of living which has hit many Zambians.
The most impacted has been high prices of mealie meal which has worsened already existing poverty levels.
This development, Musokotwane said, has led government to outline measures such as engaging millers to buy affordable maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for them to offload cheap mealie meal on the market.
“We are implementing measures to lower the cost of producing maize. Key among these is the cost of fertiliser, which has come down to US$865 per metric tonne from about US$1,200 in the last season,” he said.
He also announced the beginning of community purchases of maize from FRA for citizens to have an option whether to buy maize or mealie meal.
Musokotwane also raised Pay As You Earn by increasing the exempt threshold to K5,100 from K4,800 and reducing the top rate to 37.0 percent from 37.5 percent.
“There has been an understandable concern on the tax burden especially given the rise in the cost of living. Even in the midst of tight fiscal space, it is imperative that we provide some relief to the worker,” he stated.
On financing the budget, the minister plans to raise K141.1 billion or 22.0 percent of GDP domestically, K3.4 billion or 0.6 percent of GDP from grants from Cooperating Partners, and K33.3 will be financed through debt in accordance with the Annual Borrowing Plan.
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