Sunday, December 01, 2013

Zambia's economic growth is elitist, says Chikwanda
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Wed 23 Oct. 2013, 14:00 CAT

ZAMBIA'S economic growth is impaired and remains elitist, says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda. Chikwanda said despite the country posting high economic growth rates averaging six per cent in the past seven years, extreme poverty levels in Zambia remained "stubbornly high" at 42.3 per cent, almost the same level it was at in 2006.

Rural areas have remained the hardest hit with rural extreme poverty currently standing at 57.7 per cent having marginally declined by 1.2 percentage points from 58.5 per cent in 2006.

"These statistics demonstrate the fact that Zambia's economic growth is impaired and has remained elitist as far as it has not translated into broad-based benefits for our citizens," Chikwanda said when he officially opened the joint-poverty indaba on eradicating extreme poverty in Zambia and Chilenje Hall.

"Further, unemployment has remained high while access to basic necessities such as quality sanitation services, universal health… particularly those in peripheral areas away from the line of rail," he added.

"Most marginalised communities have also remained vulnerable to risks such as the threat of climate change and rising food and fuel prices at a global level. This situation has resulted in high levels of discontent among our people who begin to question the tangibility of the so-called economic boom. This formed the platform under which the PF government was ushered into office."

Chikwanda said to overcome poverty levels and high unemployment levels in the country, the government would continue to focus its policies targeting to promote growth in labour intensive sectors like agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and construction.

Chikwanda also said the government was working at ways of improving budget management, increase transparency and enhance oversight roles of Parliament, civil society and citizens.

"The government also plans to present to Parliament in mid 2014, the budget and planning bill that seeks to harmonise financial management and budget legislation and strengthen budget processes," said Chikwanda.

"It is hoped that this process will improve management of the budget, increase transparency and enhance the oversight roles of Parliament, Civil Society and the citizens."

The indaba was the first-ever dialogue meeting between the government and civil society organization and was attended by secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba, permanent secretary in charge of budgeting Pamela Chibonga, Western province permanent secretary Amos Malupenga and councilors from the area.

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