Minister of Finance and National Planning, Situmbeko Musokotwane says the 2023 National budget has been drafted to fulfil government’s plans as spelled out in the 8th National Development plan and the aspirations of vision 2030.
Dr. Musokotwane said the 2023 National Budget seeks to address the many challenges faced by the Country’s citizens especially, youth unemployment and the low standards of living.
“There was a survey that was conducted a few years ago asking people about the biggest problems that they have and as you may imagine, given the young population that the country has, the biggest problem was that of how can we get jobs. We have a lot of people who are heavily qualified but have no jobs. Concern number two was the issue of low-income levels as the standards of living had fallen” he added
He said government’s focus for the next four years is on growing the economy as it is the only way to get the country out of poverty and be able to provide the much-needed social services.
Speaking during open public symposium on the 2023 National Budget held in Lusaka today, Dr. Musokotwane said this growth can only be achieved by increasing productivity across sectors of the economy.
“We targeted a few sectors, critical sectors to see what kind of measures we can take. Budgets can be and is an instrument for economic growth. That instrument can be exercised either by the way government spends money or the type of taxes that government levies” he added
The Minister listed the mining, agricultural, tax incentives for encouragement public private partnerships, the education and health as some of the sectors that the government has targeted to help improve of the quality of life for Zambians.
And Bank of Zambia Governor, Denny Kalyalya said the Bank of Zambia has put in place measures to ensure that address tasks set out for the Bank of Zambia in the 2023 National Budget are performed and existing gaps are closed.
Dr. Kalyalya said ensuring that the Country’s inflation rates are reduced to the acceptable brackets of 6 to 8%, maintain international reserves above 3 months of import cover and maintain a flexible exchange rate regime are among the tasks for the Bank of Zambia in the budget.
He further added that enhancement of the compilation of Balance of payments statistics, limit disruption in the provision of financial services and piloting a credit guarantee scheme to help SMEs access finance as the other tasked for the Central Bank.
“In terms of what the budget has for us more specifically, there are six points that we want to highlight. One is the core mandate of the Bank of Zambia, which is to reduce inflation to the target bands of 6 to 8 percent by the end of 2023, secondly touch on maintaining international reserves. Then the third point is to maintain a flexible exchange rate” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Dingani Banda revealed that the ZRA is faced with a limited Tax collection base with only 5 out of the 22 sectors in the country accounting for 75% of Tax revenue, reducing its collection capacity.
Mr. Dingani named the most active sectors as the mining and quarrying, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, finance and insurance activities and public and defense, while the remaining 17 sectors account for only 25% of the revenue collected.
He further disclosed that there are low tax compliance levels among small scale miners stating that only 150 out of the 2,404 tax registered small and medium sized mining firms report production on the ZRA system.