We’re failing to reduce poverty-PS

DESPITE Government making remarkable economic progress, it has failed to reduce poverty in the country, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance Felix Nkulukusa has said.

Mr Nkulukusa said Government has prioritized expenditures in the 2014 Budget in four core development areas, namely agriculture, construction, manufacturing and tourism.

Speaking when he officially opened bilateral Government negotiations meeting between Zambia and Germany in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Nkulukusa said the four identified sectors were labour intensive and would substantially contribute to job creation and poverty reduction.

“While Zambia has made remarkable progress, the challenge has remained that of ensuring that the economic growth and macro-economic stability attained translates into reduced levels of poverty for the majority of our people,” he said.

Mr Nkulukusa said Government has launched the Public Finance and Management (PFM) reform strategy to ensure efficient, effective and accountable use of public resources as a basis for economic development and poverty eradication.

He said PFM reform strategy was aimed at consolidating macro-economic stability and undertakes structural reforms that create more fiscal space, improvement of public expenditure and financial management as well as tax administration and tax base expansion.

“The Zambian government also remains committed to broadening the tax base, attracting foreign direct investment and diversifying the economy so as to achieve broad-based pro-poor growth and development,” he said.

Mr Nkulukusa said Government was at the moment receiving assistance from the Germany Government to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation capacity as well as development for the national Budget and planning policy legal framework.

He also said Government was currently reviewing its aid policy and strategy which was promulgated in 2007, adding that the aim was to update and realign it with the current economic dispensations and dynamics of international aid architecture.

“Zambia has continued to make considerable progress in achieving and sustaining economic growth and macro-economic stability. Zambia’s gross domestic product growth has averaged about 6.5 per cent over the past 10 years mainly on account of sustained favourable performance in the mining, construction, agriculture, manufacturing and transport and communication sectors,” he said.

And head of German delegation Alois Shnieder said Germany was ready to support Zambia in key sectors through bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements.

He said Zambia remained one of Germany’s key partners and that Africa was regional focus of Germany’s development cooperation where more than Euros 1.2 billion is disbursed every year.

“We are glad to offer our support through the instruments of our bilateral and multilateral development cooperation,” Mr Shnieder said.

He said Zambia was one of the countries which were going to benefit from support in rural development, food and nutrition security initiative.

Mr Shnieder said poverty reduction and sustainable development were significant challenges that needed to be tackled by all countries in Africa, including Zambia.

He said the fight against poverty was a top priority for Germany and the Zambian Government.