Friday, July 15, 2011
By Bright Mukwasa and Gift Chanda
Fri 15 July 2011, 11:40 CAT
THERE is nothing exciting about the re-classification of Zambia as a middle income country, says Civil Society for Poverty Reduction executive director Patrick Mucheleka.
And International Labour Organisation (ILO) officer-in-charge Jealous Chirove says Zambia still has a long way to go in achieving the 2030 vision especially with the prevailing uneven income distribution patterns despite it being elevated to the middle income status.
But President Rupiah says the decision by the World Bank to reclassify Zambia as a middle income country is the latest in a long line of economic achievements which are directly impacting the people of Zambia.
Commenting on the report by the World Bank, Mucheleka said the re-classification amounts to nothing as poverty levels in rural areas remained high.
“You can celebrate if poverty levels are going down, but what does that mean to people in the villages? We would like the World Bank to tell us by how much has poverty reduced,” Mucheleka said.
“We should be talking about equity distribution of wealth and proper funding of the agriculture, education and health sectors which have been neglected going the levels budgetary allocation.”
He said the government must stop the corruption that had prevailed in the social sectors which were crucial to the reduction of poverty as cited by the Auditor General’s report.
“The money that we are raising from the mines is very little. Is the money from the mines remaining in the country to help us fight poverty? The answer is no. And most of our capital projects are funded by the donors,” he said.
Mucheleka said the announcement by the World Bank was just mere statistics with nothing to show on the ground as far as poverty levels in Zambia were concerned.
And during a high level forum on investment and employment in Zambia held in Lusaka yesterday, Chirove said Zambia still had a challenge to ensure even distribution of income.
Chirove said in spite of the recent “relatively strong economic growth” the country had recorded, poverty levels remained unsustainable high at over 64 per cent.
“...however, we all agree it is still some way to go before we achieve the vision 2030 goal, especially in view of the prevailing distribution patterns,” said Chirove.
In last week’s World Bank annual assessment of poor countries, Zambia was the 27th country to be re-classified since the year 2000 as a middle income country – ahead of Ghana at 28.
The report states that the number of children in primary school has climbed along with literacy rates, and infant mortality has fallen in both in Zambia and Ghana.
“New middle-income countries this year include Ghana and Zambia. Lower middle-income countries are those with per-capita GNI’s of between $1,006 and $3,975 per year. Upper middle-income countries are those with per-capita GNI’s between $3,976 and $12, 275,” the report states.
And in a statement issued by special assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Dickson Jere, President Banda said his government had been working tirelessly to deliver economic prosperity to all Zambians by providing more education and employment opportunities and encouraging international investment in the country.
“This decision is the latest in a long line of economic achievements which are directly impacting the people of Zambia. Our economy is delivering growth of more than seven percent despite continued recession in many parts of the world, thanks to sound government policies, and it is good that this is being recognised again on the world stage,” President Banda said.
“I now want to lock-in the stability that our new status brings; I want all Zambians to start feeling the benefits of better salaries and a better standard of living.”
He said the government was also in the process of establishing multi-facility economic zones and industrial parks to promote the manufacturing sector.
“…Having a stable economy which will yield jobs and increase foreign investment, erode poverty and maintain steady food production and lower prices is critical, and my government will continue to work hard to achieve this on behalf of all the Zambian people,” said President Banda.