— Platform for Social Protection Zambia worries on reduced budget allocation on social protection

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The Platform for Social Protection Zambia has expressed worry that the reduction in budgetary allocation to the Social Protection in the National Budget from last year’s 2.77 to this year’s 2.70 percent of the overall expenditure.


Platform for Social Protection Zambia coordinator Mutale Wakunuma says this reduction  will have no impact on poverty reduction in the majority Zambians.


But Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda during the 2015 National Budget presentation to parliament reaffirmed government’s commitment to eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by continuing with the Social Cash Transfer Scheme which was scaled up in 2014.


Government scaled up the cash transfer scheme to 145,000 beneficiaries by June this year while 190,000 more beneficiaries are expected to be reached by the end of 2014.


The Finance Minister allocated K1.3 billion in the 2015 proposed National Budget for Social Protection of which K805 million is for the Public Service Pension Fund, K180.6 million for the Social Cash Transfer Scheme and K50 million for the Food Security Pack.


The allocation to social protection translates to 2.7 percent of the overall expenditure in 2015 compared to 2.77 percent of the overall expenditure in 2014.


Ms. Wakunuma  has noted that the 2015 National Budget is not equitable because 65% of the overall budget goes towards non-social spending that include general public services and debt servicing.


She stated that the reduction in allocation to social cash transfers is the greatest concern as it means that only 1 percent of Zambia’s population who are eligible for the scheme will be covered out of the eligible 10 percent.


“This should be understood in the context of the situation of poverty in Zambia, standing stuck at 60.5 percent as well as the fact that Zambia signed up to the Millennium Development Goals, whose first goal was to reduce hunger and poverty by at least half by 2015,” Ms. Wakunuma stated.


She further explained that the risk with reduced expenditure for the social cash transfers is that it stands to threaten some of the remarkable achievements recorded by the program at both the household level as well as at the level of the local economy.