Friday, March 25, 2011

Mucheleka advises govt on borrowing

Mucheleka advises govt on borrowing
By Florence Bupe
Fri 25 Mar. 2011, 04:00 CAT

THE Zambian government should ensure that it builds a strong domestic financial base to avoid excessive borrowing, says Patrick Mucheleka.

In an interview, Mucheleka, who is Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) executive director, said the government risked plunging the country into excessive debt because of its failure to create a strong revenue base at local level.

Before looking at both internal and external borrowing, government should ensure that a strong financial base is created and one sure way of doing this is by revising the tax regime for the mines,” Mucheleka said. “Government should realise that Zambians won’t just let the issue of the windfall tax go to sleep.”

Mucheleka said it was disheartening that the country’s poverty levels were still high despite the economic growth that had been registered.

He said the positive growth in the economy would remain academic for as long as the grassroots were not benefiting from the trend.

Government can’t just continue to create incentives for foreign investors. There is need for local investors to receive equal incentives to promote domestic investment as this will have more meaningful solutions for the prevailing poverty levels,” he said.

And Mucheleka has said the government needs to start considering civil society organisations as development partners instead of opponents.

He said it was surprising that the government was clearly uneasy on the existence of some civil society organisations that were fostering improved living standards for ordinary Zambians.

Mucheleka said as a result of its discomfort, the government was trying to enact laws aimed at stifling civil society organisations.

“The government is trying to come up with repressive NGO (non- governmental organisation) regulatory mechanisms to stifle the operations of these organisations. For instance, the NGO Act of 2009 creates a hostile environment for our existence,” Mucheleka said.

Mucheleka also called for the speedy enactment of the decentralisation policy as a means of addressing issues of abuse and misappropriation of funds.

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