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CSPR Statement on the 2006 National Budget

"Thanks For Growth, But Where Is The Strategy On Jobs and the Equity in Taxes?" Says CSPR

Delivered by Grayson Koyi
Board Member, Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR)

13 February 2006

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Introduction

The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) welcomes the spirit of the 2006 budget to translate the pains endured during the HIPC process into welfare gains that must result into advances in access to education, health care and economic provisioning. It is CSPR's hope that the sacrifices Zambians made will soon translate into lasting freedom - the emancipation from the yoke of poverty. CSPR is particularly enthused with the budget's move to focus on economically empowering Zambians, especially the youth, as a sustainable way of fighting poverty and ensuring the country's future prosperity. CSPR is confident that government's continued thrust for fiscal prudence and tight monetary policy will steer the national economy towards greater prosperity. We implore business houses and industry to respond in ways that will ensure increased national output and thus, improved incomes and standards of living for the ordinary Zambian citizens.

The 2006 budget is not without weakness, however. Within this context, CSPR is concerned that the budget has not addressed itself to the employment problem nor offered meaningful tax relief for the working population. Our expectations on employment creation and tax relief have therefore not been meet. Strangely, could it be by coincidence that the budget has not paid serious attention to issues directly affecting labour? The answer is complicated, at best, beyond the scope of our statement.

CSPR's statement on the 2006 national budget is informed by the network's vision for "a Zambia in which all of its people enjoy all basic needs." The network's mission is to be a leading civil society network contributing to pro-poor development at all levels in Zambia. These are the lenses; the values and convictions CSPR shall use to look at the 2006 budget. So, while saying thank you to government for positive growth, declining inflation and improved fiscal discipline, CSPR is led to ask: where is the strategy on jobs and the equity in taxes?

This statement is in five parts. The next section looks at the proposed macroeconomic framework in the context of poverty eradication and job creation. The third section concerns itself with aspects of the proposed budget expenditure framework. The fourth section interrogates aspects of the budget's proposed tax regime. The fifth section makes some recommendations. The last section concludes the statement.



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