On September 28, 2023, Patriotic Front Vice President, Hon. Given Lubinda, issued a pre-budget statement ahead of the presentation of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Year January 1, 2024, to December 31, 2024, by Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon. Situmbeko Musokotwane, scheduled for September 29, 2023. This marks Musokotwane’s third national budget since the New Dawn Government took office.
Lubinda’s statement criticizes the previous budgets presented by Musokotwane’s Ministry of Finance, highlighting declining domestic revenue, increasing borrowings, declining fiscal discipline, and failed austerity measures. It also points to ongoing national crises, including food security, economic decline, high unemployment, and rising poverty levels.
The statement questions the government’s reliance on foreign solutions and investments at the expense of mobilizing domestic resources. It notes that national and food security have been jeopardized by exporting the majority of the national strategic maize grain reserves.
Lubinda criticizes the government’s management of the agriculture sector, alleging corruption, negligence, and incompetence. The statement also highlights instances of grand corruption, such as the Sugelite and Gold scandals.
Quoting the International Monetary Fund’s 2022 Country Report, Lubinda’s statement warns of the potential for social unrest in Zambia due to increasing prices, rising inequality, inadequate healthcare, and the need for political stability and economic growth. The IMF report recommends strengthening governance and anti-corruption frameworks, implementing fiscal adjustments, and improving fuel procurement efficiency.
The statement calls on the government to reconsider proposed reforms to the Farmer-Input Support Programme (FISP) and emphasizes the importance of addressing poverty and high food prices. It cites statistics indicating a rise in national poverty levels.
Additionally, Lubinda highlights the high cost of living for many families, as measured by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection’s Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) for August 2023.
The statement concludes by urging the New Dawn Government to convene a National Economic Indaba to explore alternative solutions beyond its current foreign-centric approach to national development.
Lubinda’s pre-budget statement expresses concerns about the country’s economic and social challenges, criticizes the government’s policies and approaches, and calls for a reevaluation of economic strategies.