Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) is eagerly anticipating the presentation of the 2024 National Budget by the Minister of Finance on September 29th, 2023. As a key tool for assessing government policy commitments and direction, the National Budget is of paramount importance.
In a statement released by Mr. Bright Chizonde, TI-Z’s Advocacy, Policy, and Research Manager, the organization emphasizes the need for the 2024 National Budget to reflect the current macroeconomic and socioeconomic context, especially in light of the challenges posed by the rising cost of living. The organization expects the budget theme to align with this critical issue and enable the government to effectively address it.
In terms of macroeconomic objectives, TI-Z calls for a higher economic growth target in line with Zambia’s long-term goals outlined in Vision 2030. Specifically, they advocate for achieving a real GDP growth rate of at least 5.0% in 2024. Additionally, TI-Z suggests maintaining or reducing the domestic resource mobilization target, which was set at 20.9% of GDP in 2023, as a means to alleviate the tax burden and ease the cost of living, especially for the working class.
While TI-Z supports increased budget allocations for social sectors and law enforcement agencies, they caution against excessive ambition on the expenditure side, which could strain the resource envelope. The organization commends the 2023 and 2022 National Budgets for reducing the total budget while increasing allocations to critical sectors.
Furthermore, TI-Z recommends a reduction in personal income tax, particularly by lowering the PAYE tax rates by at least 2.5% across all tax bands, to mitigate the impact of rising living costs on the workforce. They also emphasize the importance of setting clear policy direction in the agricultural sector to control maize prices and boost the production of other crops, thereby addressing short to medium-term inflation concerns.
Regarding the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), TI-Z advises the government against significant increases in allocation without comprehensive audits to assess the value for money. They express awareness of cases of CDF fund abuse and call for the maintenance of the current allocation until audits and investigations are conducted to safeguard public funds.
TI-Z’s statement reflects their commitment to promoting transparency, fiscal responsibility, and accountability in Zambia’s budgetary processes.