The Patriotic Front (PF) bloated government and the procurement of expensive fuel through Trafigura coupled with the donations of fuel and maize to Malawi and Zimbabwe respectively have cost the country billions of kwacha forcing government to punish the poor by the sudden removal of subsidies on maize and fuel.
In a motion in parliament to reinstate subsidies Solwezi Mp Lucky Mulusa said government should find better alternative ways of achieving savings from the economy other than through punishing the poor who are defenceless and vulnerable.
Speaking in support of the motion, former Minister of Finance Situmbeko Musokotwane revealed that motorists were subsidizing government because of the expensive fuel purchased which made Zambia the most expensive countries in the region.
Mr Mulusa who elaborately outlined strategies of how government could make savings without punishing poor citizens told Parliament that government should stop its wastefulness and reinstate the maize and fuel subsidies because their removal had negatively affected the majority poor Zambians.
The PF government through President Sata donated fuel and maize to Malawi and Zimbabwe worth K27 billion and K140 billion respectively while the purchase of expensive fuel from Trafigura cost not less than K1, 350 billion.
The PF’s expanded fleet of ministerial vehicles has cost the Zambians over K197 billion, with the deputy ministers gobbling over K107 billion while other expenses like ministerial emoluments and presidential foreign travels have remained unknown.
The expanded fleet of permanent secretaries inclusive of their salaries has seen government spend over K100 billion while the amount of money spent on expanded cadre of diplomats and both recalled and appointed is also unknown.
The PF government has continued in its extravagance with its never ending induced by elections which have since 2012 gobbled over K150 billion.
“Mr Speaker, we were told that government was going to successfully implement the Link 8000 project but we were never told how the funding would be obtained. Now we are being told that subsidies have been removed in order to reallocate the savings towards infrastructure development particularly road construction” he said.
Mr Mulusa told the House that there was a problem with such decisions because they lacked well defined developmental strategies and this was affecting Zambians negatively.
“We were told that the savings from the removal of subsidies will amount to K2.5 billion which is the total expenditure over the five year period the fuel subsidy was in place. Although this amount was spent over five years, it sounds very little in terms of annual savings but it went a long way to lift the welfare of the people generally” Mr Mulusa said.
He maintained that government could raise over K40 trillion or twice the amount the projected tax collections in 2013 using different strategies and pointed out several ways in which the government wasted billions of kwacha without undue consideration to the poor.
He said lack of initiative to extract maximum value from the defence force in times of peace has been another challenge saying it was possible to cut down the cost of road construction by half using the armed forces.
He also condemned the large entourage on trips abroad as well as the unexplained and unofficial extended stay abroad by the President Sata while taking a swipe at the purchase of military hardware when the country was not at war.
Mr Mulusa said the high levels of unnecessary expatriate workers in all sectors in the country was a sign of mismanaging the issuance of work permits stating that the country was exporting job opportunities and importing unemployment.
… “Andwe are subsiding the richer economies at the expense of our people’s welfare,” Mr Mulusa said.
After a division, the vote of the motion was lost 52 to 70.