The removal of subsidy on maize and fuel will be costly for the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s continued stay in power, warns International Fellowship of Christian Churches (IFCC) president Bishop Simon Chihana.
Bishop Chihana said that the PF government and its leaders would find staying in government difficult because they did not do a wide consultation with other stakeholders before effecting the removal of subsidy which would in turn impact negatively on the poor people.
Bishop Chihana observed that the PF government should take a leaf from what was happening in the western world where subsidies were removed but within a short period of time government decided to re-introduce them.
“Issues of subsidies having been removed will definitely be costly for the PF government because this borders on the daily wellbeing of the average and the poor majority. As much as we know that government has great economists within it looks like a wider consultation was not carried out, because they were in a hurry to remove the subsidies,” said Bishop Chihana.
He said that the PF had an opportunity to reduce poverty among its citizenry by making it a policy to subsidize strategic economic strongholds of the nation like what China had done.
Bishop Chihana also noted that it was hypocritical for the US ambassador to Zambia Mark Stollera to suggest that President Sata was making such harsh decisions in order to better the future of the country when the US government was heavily subsidizing the sector.
“We are well aware that USA subsidizes its agriculture by US$20 billion every year. US$ 10 to US$ 52 billion dollars goes into fuel subsidies. So what is Mr. Stollera talking about Zambia’s subsidies?” wondered Bishop Chihana.
If the PF government, he said, “does need the people of Zambia to have confidence in their economic build up and its policies then they must listen to the cries of the people before a worse situation is invited into our country politically.”
Bishop Chihana said that President Sata should consider creating pro-poor economic policies in implementing subsidies which strengthen their local industries, adding that the agriculture was a strategic economic belt for any nation.
“We believe that, with the demand of Zambian maize within the region, let government empower the farmers by restoring the subsidies on agriculture and fuel making it more level for the farmers and other industries that are in manufacturing,” said Bishop Chihana.