In a recent address to the National Assembly, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, the Minister of Finance & National Planning, outlined the government’s commitment to ensuring budget credibility to achieve development objectives in line with the Economic Transformation Programme.
Dr. Musokotwane emphasized that the 2024 budget, as discussed in the speech, is designed to steer the Zambian economy toward positive growth and prosperity while delivering efficient public services.
The government’s revenue measures are aimed at unlocking the economic potential of Zambia. Dr. Musokotwane stressed that these measures should be seen as incentives for economic growth, with specific incentives outlined in the budget document.
In the mining sector, he said resolutions have been reached for Konkola Copper Mines, and an announcement regarding Mopani Copper Mines is forthcoming. The government also plans to conduct countrywide geological mapping to benefit the nation.
Meanwhile, Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs) play a critical role in boosting the manufacturing sector. The Minister said that the government is implementing interventions to attract more investors, increase industrial production, and enhance productivity.
To address the rising cost of living, the government has increased the PAYE threshold and reduced the top rate. The Minister acknowledged the importance of financial inclusion and introduced a levy on person-to-person mobile money transfers, which is expected to yield revenue for infrastructure initiatives, including expanding mobile tower networks and satellite technology to enhance inclusivity.
Budget credibility is vital to achieving development objectives and maintaining consistency with the nation’s development agenda. Improved macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability have laid the foundation for stimulating economic growth, he stated.
He further emphasized that the 2024 Annual Borrowing Plan will help close the financing gap in the budget and facilitate various programs and projects, especially in reducing youth unemployment.
Dr. Musokotwane also disclosed that the government plans to recruit 10,400 public service workers in 2024, with a significant focus on the education and health sectors. Investments in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are a priority, with substantial allocations for empowerment initiatives.
The agriculture sector will receive support through the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Programme (CASP), which aims to enhance productivity, value addition, and market linkages.
According to Minister Musokotwane, Education is a top priority, with increased funding to improve access, quality, and equity in education.
The Minister disclosed that the government will also ensure the completion of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects without financial setbacks and provide free education in public schools. Higher Education Loan Student Board funding will increase to support vulnerable students.
He said that the health sector will receive additional funding for essential drugs and medical supplies. The government will complete Mini-Hospitals under Phase I and begin constructing more under Phase II to improve healthcare access and standards.
Dr. Musokotwane expressed gratitude to the National Assembly members for their contributions and support in the budget debate.
The government’s focus on budget credibility, revenue measures, and expenditure strategies aims to foster economic growth and prosperity while addressing key challenges and promoting inclusive development in Zambia.