Budget deficit worries donors

Zambia’s cooperating partners have observed that the PF’s unbudgeted expenditure risks crowding out resources for programmes targeted at poor Zambians.
UK Department for International Development (DFID) head Kelvin Quinlan who spoke on behalf of the cooperating partners underscored that an active and free opposition is an essential element of democracy adding that the partners were also concerned about the recent allegations of constraints of freedom of the media in the country.
“The budget deficit is now expected to be much higher than planned with significant financing gaps for this year and next. Sound fiscal management is an extremely important condition for budget support and Zambia has had a strong track record to date. Thus the fiscal delivery sends a worrying signal on Zambia’s performance on this key underlying principle” he said.
Mr Quinlan said the cooperating partners also shared the concerns raised by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) on the ongoing infringements of fundamental freedoms in the country.
He further observed that government’s decision on poverty reduction appear inconsistent and cited the recent wage increases for public sector workers whose income is already well above the poverty line as one that has the potential to have a negative impact on tackling poverty.
“We encourage government to use the recent wage increase to leverage higher performance from the civil service” he said.
He noted that the increase in budgetary allocation for health, education and front line staff as well as the removal of fuel subsidies were progressive strides to alleviating poverty.
“Government should take effort to return to producing consolidated quarterly budget execution reports in a timely manner and share these reports in order to assist in monitoring and analysis of budget execution” he said.