Oxfam Zambia Country Representative, Yvonne Chibiya, has observed that the 2024 national budget falls short of addressing challenges many Zambians are facing due to increased cost of living.
Chibiya in her comment on the 2024 national budget released on Thursday said many Zambians were expectant that the plan would address the ever-growing cost of living which was biting hard on people’s incomes.
“A more progressive budget needed to have included measures such as reintroduction of subsidies on energy and essential food items like mealie meal, implementing Value Added Tax (VAT) exemptions on fuel and essential foods, raising the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) exempt threshold, increasing the minimum wage, and reducing VAT to a more affordable level as opposed to the case now,” she said.
Chibiya, therefore, called on government to put in place measures that would ensure that the 2024 National Budget extended its focus beyond mere economic growth.
She suggested that the budget would also consider the quality of growth and life, particularly in the context of poverty, inequalities, and the cost of living for the majority of people of Zambia.
Chibiya also commented on the tax measures in the national budget. In her reaction, she noted the need to carry out taxation progressively and fairly to address socio-economic inequalities and promote income redistribution.
Chibiya also noted that this was critical in ensuring an equitable burden-sharing between the rich and the poor.
“It is appalling that while most Zambians face multiple social economic and climatic crises and are increasingly becoming less resilient, a handful of the country’s richest people continue to amass huge amounts of wealth which goes untaxed or is not taxed fairly,” she said.
Meanwhile, Oxfam cautioned that while debt was now under control, maintaining its stability could be a challenge.
“Given that Zambia’s external debt pegged at US$8.9 billion as of March 2023 is still high, it is paramount for government to ensure that its borrowing is tamed, within sustainable limits and that it does not compromise the ability to service its debt obligations on the basis of agreed terms,” Chibiya said.
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