By Nawa Mutumweno – Zambia is on course to achieve economic prosperity with a number of pragmatic steps being put in place to facilitate sustainable development.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Kennedy Sakeni told the media recently that the Patriotic Front (PF) has scored a number of successes since taking over Government in September 2011.
‘’The re-instatement of the Abuse of Office Clause in the Anti-Corruption Act is one such achievement by the current Government. The clause has not only strengthened the fight against corruption but has restored donor and investor confidence in the country’s economy and governance,’’ he pointed out.
During the first six months of 2012, the total pledged investment of the approved projects amounted to US$4 154 209 065 with an expected job creation of 18 778 opportunities for Zambian citizens. The increased investment pledges represent an increase of about 37% when compared with slightly above US$3 billion during the same period in 2011 with corresponding increase in expected employment opportunities from 17 999 in 2011 to 18 778, representing a 4% increase.
Preliminary statistics for the first quarter of 2012 also indicate an increase of 96.2% in non-traditional exports from US$305.9 million to US$600.2 million recorded in the same period in 2012.
In addition, to support economic activity, Government has introduced a combination of reductions in the statutory reserve ratio, the corporate tax rate for banks and the Bank of Zambia Policy Rate to induce a reduction in commercial banks’ lending rates to an average of 16.6% in August 2012 from 26.3% in November 2011.
The economy is poised to register a positive growth for 2012 with a GDP projection of above 7%, single digit inflation rate, decreasing rates and more than US$2 billion in foreign reserves. The Government is committed to ensuring that good economic performance translates into tangible poverty reduction and wealth creation, especially at grassroots level.
Other milestone achievements include the increase in the tax exemption threshold and the upward revision of the minimum wage for low earners. The Government increased the tax exemption threshold from K1 million to K2 million. This means those earning below K2 million are not taxed.
‘’On a similar note, earlier in the year, hundreds of public workers were awarded a wage hike that saw some workers’ wages rise on an average of between four and fifteen percent. The increment is the highest in decades and is in line with the more money in the pocket campaign promise,’’ he added.
Accountability and good performance shall continue to be the focus of the Government in order to effectively respond to current and future challenges and efficiently bridge gaps in the implementation of the national development agenda.
In terms of Budget execution, by the end of June 2012, the Government had released 76.6% of the Budget allocation with most of the ministries and spending agencies having received above 50%of their 2012 allocations.
In this vein, Government is in the process of establishing a Government-wide monitoring and evaluation system which will enhance resource allocation and evaluation system to projects and tracking the policy performance, including support of results-based management.
‘’Government will continue to improve the management of the economy top ensure an inclusive growth through creating more jobs and, most important of all, reduction in the high poverty levels,’’ Mr. Sakeni said.