THE 2015 national Budget is a major disaster for social protection, says Platform for Social Protection Zambia (PSP) programme assistant Susan Chiwenda
Ms Chiwenda said one of the fundamental considerations in the assessment of the national budget as PSP Zambia was how equitable the document really was.
She said an assessment, it showed that the 2015 budget was not equitable and did not promise to reduce poverty for the majority of Zambians.
“Equity can be assessed by the extent to which the government has attempted to guarantee a fair and just redistribution of the national wealth to all its citizens without exception, and this entails therefore that a budget should be used to ensure enhanced access to basic social and economic services for all in society,” she said.
Ms Chiwenda said the main disappointment of the 2015 budget was the reduction in spending for social protection from 2.77 per cent in 2014 to 2.70 per cent in 2015 as a share of the national budget.
She said the reduction and the stagnation of allocation of funds towards food security programmes meant that the ambitions set out in the approved National Social Protection Policy would not be achieved.
“The reduction in allocation to social cash transfers is however, the greatest concern as this means that the covered population will remain low covering only around 1 per cent of Zambia’s population out of the eligible 10 per cent that should be covered,” she said.
Ms Chiwenda said the risk of reducing expenditure on the social cash transfers was that it threatened the remarkable achievements recorded by the programme at both the household level as well as the national level.
She said although the 2015 budget sets out an admirable theme of “Celebrating our Golden Jubilee as One Zambia One Nation by Making Economic Independence a Reality for All,” a dissection of the budget showed that the ambition was not sufficiently provided for.
“It is clear that over two thirds (65 per cent) of the budget will go towards non social spending, and this percentage is consumed by general public services (the bulk of which goes towards debt servicing), defence, public order and safety and economic affairs,” she said.