Stakeholders are giving out their expectations ahead of the 2023 National Budget presentation to Parliament set for this Friday, 30th September, 2022.
The Government has been urged to allocate more funding to Agriculture Research Centres in the 2023 national budget.
Zambians United for Sustainable Development (ZUSD) President Lazarus Chisela said the budget for 2022 did not address challenges facing the agriculture sector especially research centres.
“Zambians are capable of feeding themselves and earning an income if Government can concentrate funding research centres such as Mount Makulu in the 2023 budget. Previous budget for 2022, did not address challenges facing the agriculture sector especially research centres which is not suppose to be the case in the next budget of 2023, further Zambians United for Sustainable Development-ZUSD calls on the new dawn administration to recruit agriculture extension officers next year using 2023 national budget,” Mr. Chisela said.
“Let Government promote sustainable agriculture under ZNS, Defence and Zambia Police. So as a party, we discourage Government from export maize instead as a country let us export products such as mealie meal and create jobs for our locals,” Mr. Chisela said.
Meanwhile, Ndola District Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NDCCI) President Paul Chisunka said the National Budget should balance supply-side economics with demand-side economics.
“The Ndola Chamber of Commerce looks forward to a National Budget that balances supply-side economics with demand-side economics because we believe this will allow Zambia to realise economic growth while still providing government with sufficient revenue to fund the social sectors, fulfil our debt obligations, and attend to the needs of our people.In order to reduce the cost of doing business and the cost of living, we urge the government to pay particular attention to tackling cost related bottlenecks in the business regulatory environment and to completely move away from a high tax regime. We emphasize that high taxes and over regulation are a disservice to our economy because they damage the production and operational efficiencies of businesses which makes goods and services expensive thus adding inflationary pressure and weakening the purchasing power of consumers.The 2023 National Budget should aim to minimize regulatory costs, statutory fees and excessive penalties that cause MSMEs and informal businesses to avoid formalization because the cost of compliance is unbearable and unsustainable. This will make their contribution to domestic resource mobilization much higher, more effective, traceable, and impactful,” Mr. Chisunka said.
“We propose that lower tax bands and policy incentives be introduced for MSMEs, cottage industries, and cooperatives. This will act as a countervailing measure against unfair competition and help to revive Zambia’s industrial base by promoting value addition and providing necessary safeguards to infant industries.Research shows that higher tax rates can sometimes decrease the tax base, which will lead to the decrease in tax revenues even if the tax rates are high. The case to systematically reduce taxes is therefore strong and cannot be over emphasized because, by identifying and lowering high taxes we can boost local and foreign investments resulting in more output, higher employment, better standards of living, and more tax revenue. Lower tax rates can also encourage banks to reduce interest rates and make money more affordable to borrow for businesses and households.A further 5-10% reduction in Corporate Tax is also needed for companies to obtain favourable returns on investments. This will turn Zambia into a noticeable competitive tax jurisdiction and will discourage profit shifting and capital flight.Capital gains should remain tax-free to encourage savings, investments in government bonds, and to facilitate the easy mobility of capital, and exchange of assets within the Zambian economy,” he said.
Mr. Chisunka said the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) threshold should be increased by at least 50? and adjustments made to the subsequent tax bands.
“The PAYE threshold should be increased by at least 50? and adjustments made to the subsequent tax bands. This will be a rational budgetary measure meant to arrest the high cost of living by increasing household incomes and stimulating demand for various goods and services produced in Zambia.To offset subdued economic performance and achieve rapid industrialization which is needed to substantially increase our Real GDP, we recommend that government allows businesses to accelerate depreciation on selective capital equipment and machinery. This will encourage companies to buy modern equipment and machinery, and increase the uptake of modern technologies, which will make Zambian industry more proficient in manufacturing high quality products and executing professional services that will contribute more revenue to the Zambian treasury through exports and domestic sales. Fiscal incentives for investors should be retained for us to remain a competitive investment destination. This will help the country to attract more investments in capital intensive sectors and industries such as insurance and finance, agriculture, mining, energy, ICT, infrastructure, manufacturing, and tourism. Special economic status can be conferred on districts or sectors within districts of strategic economic importance to accelerate the development and expansion of established and emerging industries that can radically transform the socio-economic outlook of our regions and pass on benefits that create a network of progress and prosperity across the country,” he said.
Mr. Chisunka added:”The budgetary allocation towards essential sectors such as health, education, and security should increase, as well as funding for pivotal research and development (R&D) aimed at building a knowledge based economy where socially and economically beneficial scientific findings and innovations can take place to improve the performance of the public and private sectors, and enhance our quality of life. Special tax status should be considered for companies or organisations that invest in such sectors or industries because the wealth generated over time will more than adequately compensate for the immediate lost income in the budget. Budgetary allocations towards public procurement should include a mandatory requirement on local content to prioritize economic opportunities for Zambian citizens through meritorious and transparent procurement systems. Where our capacities are limited, joint ventures are a viable option. Our goal should be to create pockets of critical mass across the various sectors by consciously empowering Zambians at the earliest opportunity.
Once government leads by example, multinationals and other businesses will be more motivated to support Zambian businesses.To complement various measures on economic empowerment, we advise that institutional architectural constraints should be decisively dealt with for effective implementation and monitoring of intended outcomes such as the quality of industries created, their level of production output, extent of diversification being achieved, contribution to GDP, the number of local jobs created, the level of household incomes, and the effect on reducing poverty and developmental inequalities.The government should allocate sufficient funds towards continuous public and private sector reforms including governance and the fight against corruption because we regard these as fundamental to the maintenance of democracy and free markets which are essential to our economic and social well-being as a country.Ultimately, we expect the 2023 National Budget to inject life into the public and private sector reform process meant to improve government service delivery and create an enabling business environment, to improve Zambia’s social and economic development.”