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Catholic Centre for Justice Development and Peace

The budget in the election year: Priorities and not promises

Emmanuel Mali

Economic Justice Programme, Catholic Centre for Justice Development and Peace

SARPN acknowledges permission from Economic Justice Programme (EJP) to post this document.
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Our beloved nation is swiftly approaching the third general elections since the adoption of multi- party democracy in 1991. It is the hope of the Economic Justice Programme (EJP) of the Catholic Centre for Development, Justice and Peace (CCJDP) that Zambia's development priorities will not fall off the table as the country burns its energy towards a peaceful election year in spite of the current volatile political situation in the nation.

It is a matter of fact, that since independence, Zambians have enjoyed the right and power to elect representatives to Parliamentary and Presidential positions. However, the ordinary Zambians have had little or no say in national economic and political decisions that affect their lives. They have not fully participated in issues around priority setting of the National Budget. Democracy loses its essence, when citizens do not fully participate in economic governance.

As Zambia prepares for the 2006 National budget, in line with the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and for the formulation of the 5th National Development Plan, we should recognize the fact that the nation's economic and social problems require strong political commitment, bold decisions and pragmatic actions. Zambians, more especially the 67 percent, whose income is below the poverty line and life expectancy below 40 years, demand more than just political rhetoric.

The economy will continue to face high poverty levels unless there is greater economic growth; a pro- poor growth, in which poor people can participate and none should be excluded. This is a challenge to policy makers to formulate and implement policies which will both enhance pro-poor economic growth and strengthen the capacity of the nation to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This growth should also be equitably distributed in various sectors of the economy in order to have lasting impacts.

For Economic Justice Programme (EJP), our agenda and top priority for the nation is poverty eradication. We have for a decade now, mentioned that the priority for the nation should be that which will enhance growth that promotes integral human development and uplift the human dignity of the majority of Zambians. The recent developments in the global and domestic economy, the Group of the Eight richest countries (G8) resolutions, the Fifth National Development Plan and the Constitution making processes renews our impetus to eradicate poverty.



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