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Catholic Centre for Justice Development and Peace

Civil Society engagement in the national budget process

Namukolo Liywalii

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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Introduction

The National Budget is a vital economic policy instrument. It is also essential to the sustainability of government programmes in any given country. The Budget reflects the choices the government has made to realize the countries' social and economic agendas. It is a fundamental tool in the implementation of public policy and a more telling indicator of the priority accorded to fighting poverty and developing the nation.

This booklet aims to raise awareness on civil society engagement in the Budget process. It starts by looking at the Zambian budget process, levels of civic participation, strategies for civic engagement and finally the conclusion is drawn. It is hoped that this will assist civil society engage in the Budget process from an informed basis and ultimately be heard in the formulation and execution of the national budget.

What is a National budget?

A national budget is an annual plan which shows how much money government thinks it will receive in the next year and what it will spend that money on. This shows that the budget has two sides, namely the Revenue and Expenditure sides. The revenue side shows where the government will get money to spend of which among other sources include; taxes, customs, duties, overseas loan, grants and donations. The expenditure side on the hand shows where the money will be spent on, for instance on health, education, infrastructure development etc.

The National Budget outlines how revenue raised by the national government will be divided between ministries and quasi- government agencies. Traditionally, budgets have performed several central economic and social functions: they allocate resources, provide basic social services, ameliorate income and wealth disparities, stabilize prices, and generate economic growth and employment. Budgets reflect the vision of economic and social development of governments and more generally the values of a society. They also reflect the choices that governments have to make in order to realise their social and economic agenda. Underlying these choices is also the balance of power relations among different social groups.



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