HE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection says government’s progressive actions to improve the living conditions of citizens in 2017 and beyond is welcome despite the increase in the cost of living.
JCTR media and information officer Tendai Posiana said government should adhere to the implementation of national plans, particularly those with potential to benefit citizens immediately and in the medium and long term.
She said measures put in place to improve the economy should ensure that citizens benefited as they were the ones who feel the pinch, and that efforts to improve the living conditions of the majority poor should be prioritized.
“Efforts such as enhancing access to affordable credit by SMEs, irrigation development, widening exports by investing in production of non-traditional exports and increased support to the Farmer Input Support Programme will also need to be accompanied by skills development and well researched market opportunities,” Ms Posiana said.
The cost of living as measured by the JCTR Basic Needs Basket (BNB) for an average Zambian family of five in Lusaka reached a record high of K5,036.28 in October, according to Ms Posiana.
The items which recorded price increases included mealie-meal, beans, green vegetables, cooking oil, bread, sugar, tea and charcoal.
Other BNBs recording increases from September to October included those for Kabwe (from K3,475.24 to K3,498.15); Mongu (from K2,998.85 to K3,087.65); Monze (from K3,069.80 to K3,133.30); Kasama (from K2,869.32 to K3,078.76) and Livingstone (from K3,699.66 to K3,849.27).
Those recording minor reductions but still remaining high included Mansa (K2, 738.14 to K2, 715.96) and Ndola (K4, 416.26 to K4, 375.83).
Ms Posiana explained that the national average cost of living for an average family of five as surveyed by the JCTR is K3, 478.31, reflecting a shortfall of K178.31 in the announced income tax–exempt threshold to enable an average Zambian family to afford the cost of living.
Meanwhile, Democratic Assembly party president Maxwell Mwamba said the 2017 budget is progressive and that it has the potential to restore the economy if well implemented.
He said the budget was indeed “promising” to the Zambia people even if he was in the opposition.
“The 2017 budget is indeed progressive, it’s really promising and it has the potential to restore the economy if well implemented. Even those in the opposition should be frank themselves, if something is good, we should not condemn it.
Otherwise I am still going through the budget trying to understand more but overall I think it is progressive” said Mr Mwamba.
People’s Alliance for Change party president Andyford Banda also called the budget progressive compared to the ones presented by the previous Governments.
Mr Banda expressed confidence that the new budget would help transform the nation and accelerate economic growth if well implemented.
He however stressed the need for Government to reduce on its spending, pointing out that Government was losing a lot of money that was needed to grow economy because of excess spending