Friday, December 21, 2007
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday December 21, 2007 [03:00]
UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) Development Studies lecturer Tiyaonse Kabwe has said this year’s pro-poor budget is the highest order of deception because it has not uplifted people’s lives. In an interview on Wednesday, Kabwe said if the government really wanted to have a proper pro-poor budget, it should channel billions of Kwacha into agriculture and social sectors like health and education.
“The pro-poor budget is not true and again these are deceptions of the highest order. We are being fooled; the poor people are being fooled, what trickle down effects have gone to the poor?” Kabwe asked. “How have the people benefited because these poor people have just been living the same way. They don’t have access to proper farming inputs; they don’t have access to good health facilities etc nothing has changed. We are living the same old life.”
The government has been implementing an activity-based budget aimed at poverty reduction. He said there were few urban and rural people whose lives had improved due to pro-poor budget.
“Only when a lot of money is pushed into agriculture sector and help peasant farmers to grow crops and monitoring them to ensure that things are happening in rural areas will we say yes this is a pro-poor budget,” he said. “What pro-poor budget is that when farmers are not assisted, no proper measures to address urban poverty? How many poor people have they upgraded in urban and rural areas? We continue to hear about poor sanitation and poor social services.”
Kabwe wondered where the resources saved from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) completion point were spent.
“Resources should have been freed for better things like effective investment in rural areas and subsidies on farming inputs. But we don’t know where resources are going. We haven’t seen the benefits of HIPC,” he said. “We talk about single digit inflation, but people are not feeling that. Instead of talking about single digit inflation we should be talking about the benefits trickling down.”
He observed that even bus fares had been increased.
“If we are stuck at one poverty level, we are not moving anywhere, our salaries are not increasing, we can’t rejoice upon hearing the so-called single digit inflation, it’s not an achievement,” said Kabwe.