Thursday, June 14, 2012
By Kombe Chimpinde
Thu 14 June 2012, 13:23 CAT
UN country director Kani Wignaraja says the government should endeavour to raise the country's human development index in 2013 through the next budget. Wignaraja said in an interview that the 2013 budget, being the first PF structured national plan since attaining power, must reflect on how the government will increase the rate of decent jobs in both the public and private sector.
"We hope that the PF can proceed with what it said it would do, what we saw in the manifesto," she said. "We saw that there would be a significant increase in both the health and education budgets and I think those two raise the level of human development in the country which is critical. So we are very much hoping that goes through."
Wignaraja also outlined the agriculture sector as the key engine, emphasising the need to diversify the sector.
"So what we would like to see is which of the areas in agriculture for instance, the agro industry, livestock that create many jobs for a large number of people," she said.
"At the same time that relates to education because, at the same time there is interest in putting up more money into technical education. So young people are coming out of schools with skills and they can go into these sectors and have a decent job and decent wage. That is the main promise of PF and that is what we hope that this new budget really supports that kind of employment creation."
Wignaraja said it was impossible for the government to absorb all the unemployed Zambians into public sector generated jobs.
"The other issue is that the budget also has to be an enabler to get all private sector to expand and create jobs, by putting in the right incentives," she said.
On calls for the re-introduction of mining windfall tax, Wignaraja said the government must adopt a tax system which will draw reasonable amount of income and not dampen business by frustrating the players in the sector.
"They have to understand which type of tax is best placed to increase (revenue) and move on and boost business. It might be that it has to do with increasing the royalties which they have done. It might be in other ways but I think you have right people now in the finance ministry and mines looking at this. I don't think there can be one instrument, it has to be a combination. It's a matter of balancing that," said Wignaraja.