Opinion: Austerity Measures Without Fiscal Discipline Will Cause Unnecessary Suffering On Zambians

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The irregularities that have been highlighted in the Auditor General’s report for 2017 are a clear indication of lack of fiscal discipline in Public institutions. This is despite the several pronouncements by honourable minister of finance, Felix Mutati, on government’s intention of promoting a solid public finance management system to support fiscal prudence and address structural challenges to stimulate economic growth. One of the pillars of the “Zambia Plus Economic Recovery Programme”, which government launched in 2016, focused on improving economic and fiscal governance by raising the levels of accountability and transparency in the allocation and use of public finances. It aimed at ensuring that financial misappropriation, irregularities, fraud and corruption are curbed. However, after the successful launch and implementation of this programme, the amount of misapplication of funds has increased by about 500%, Unaccounted for funds have increased by 100%, unretired imprest has increased by about 40% as evidenced by the 2017 Auditor general’s report. The raft of austerity measures that have been put in place by government are necessary to resolve most of the economic challenges that Zambia is currently facing such as the high unemployment levels, more than 50% of the population living below the poverty line, the weak kwacha against other major tradeable currencies, high interest rates, high cost of living, persistent budget deficits and a high and unsustainable sovereign debt position of $12.5 billion representing more than 50% of our GDP.

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