THERE is widespread fiscal abuse in the government system leading to failure to implement planned projects and programmes, Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) secretary general Cosmas Mukuka has charged.
And Mr Mukuka has charged that government should maintain its presence in the oil procurement system in order to protect the poor who would not afford the high cost of petroleum products precipitated by profit-motivated oil companies.
Mr Mukuka was commenting on the 2017 National Budget presented in Parliament last Friday by Finance Minister Felix Mutati during a press briefing at the Congress House yesterday.
He said the fight against corruption in the budget was as a result of acknowledgement that was there widespread fiscal abuse in the government system leading to failure to implement planned projects and programmes. He said ZCTU appreciated that the National Budget had also prioritized the fight against corruption to avoid abuse of resources and improve efficiency in public service financial management.
“We are optimistic that resources saved by strengthening of laws and regulations aimed at improving transparency and accountability would help ease the fiscal deficits currently constraining efficient and effective delivery of quality public services,” Mr Mukuka said.
Meanwhile, Mr Mukuka said the non-taxable threshold increment from 3,000 to K3,300, and increase of K300 fell below the ZCTU proposal and expectation of a K4,500 non-taxable threshold.
He also urged government to undertake wider consultation before introducing any new legislation regarding pension reforms.
“ZCTU takes note that government will in 2017 present legislation that will allow new entrants into public pension schemes, revise the employer and employee contribution upwards, facilitate private sector management of pension funds and revise the benefit schemes to ensure longer-term protection for pensioners,” he said.
Mr Mukuka said also said government’s target to create 100, 000 jobs was attainable and urged the government to create beyond the targeted 100, 000 jobs if the current high levels of unemployment and poverty were to be significantly reduced.
On energy, Mr Mukuka said government should consider coming up with various mitigation measures to cushion the poor population from the effects of moving to cost reflective tariffs to attract private sector investment in the energy sector while maintaining the life line tariff to protect poorer households.
He said the decision implied a further increase in electricity tariffs and there commodity prices were expected to increase.