President Michael Sata and his administration must rethink the impact of fuel and maize subsidy removal in the short term if his government is truly a pro-poor, says Nongovernmental organisation coordinating council (NGOCC) board chairperson Beatrice Grillo.
Ms Grillo said it was not even clear how much would be realized from the savings arising from the removal of the subsidies nor even how these would be rechanneled to benefit the majority of citizens especially the vulnerable.
She said it was unfortunate that while government argued that the removal of subsidies would benefit the poor in a long a run, its action in short term had adversely affected the poor especially women.
She said it was the duty of government to ensure the rights of its citizens including the poor were upheld, and that government had the responsibility to source for monies to support the poor.
“The argument that removal of subsides will benefit the poor in the long term does not hold water because the poor need to eat, send their children to school today and not10 to 20 years from today,
“Historically, the impact of the removal of subsides has had negative implications on the poor’s access to rights such as the right to food, education, health, movement (transport), peace, non-violence,” she said.
Ms Grillo argued that the savings from the removal of subsidies would not benefit the people of Zambia through social and economic needs and other infrastructural development, unless they were proper systems and policies put in place.
“In as much as this could be true, this economic growth and the perceived benefits to the poor can only be attained through proper systems and policies in place. It’s impossible for economic growth to take place without addressing issues of poverty and inequality that are at very high levels in the country,” she said.