Labour Minister rebuffs fuel subsidy critics
Itezhi tezhi May 10, ZANIS —–The Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda today rebuffed insinuations by some opposition leaders that removal of fuel subsidy will only befit ministers.
Mr Shamenda said that removal of subsides is meant to benefit the majority Zambians as opposed to the multinational corporations (MNCs) and private companies which were benefitting more from the facility.
He said that 80% of the beneficiaries of the fuel subsidy were multinational corporations and big private firms which use a lot of fuel as compared to the majority Zambians.
Some opposition leaders recently were of the view that that government was economical with the truth regarding the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking at the Itezhi tezhi District Council Chamber when he addressed various heads of government departments in the district, Mr Shamenda said nothing has changed about the government’s objective of ensuring ordinary Zambians benefit more from PF policies.
“You are aware that government recently increased hefty salaries for civil servants to be implemented in September and this needs resources”
“We could not implement the new salary increment in May because government had no resources hence the wage freeze up to September,” Mr Shamenda explained.
Mr Shamenda said that critics of the removal of fuel subsides should be truthful and commend government for trying to find resources to honour their various commitments such as salary increments and other developmental projects.
The Labour Minister observed that despite the fact that the decision will bring about some shocks such as marginal increases in fuel and other services, the long term effects are beneficial to the Zambian people.
“This measure will encourage government investments and the plough back of savings from subsidy into key infrastructure and social projects.
He said, "There is no lie about the fact that government has done the right thing which people should appreciate”
He added that the facts on the ground suggest that government cannot continue to bear the burden of subsidy which currently gulps a huge chunk of the total annual government budget.
Mr Shamenda who has asked civil servants to explain the benefits of this measure argued that it is a fact that the subsidy claims has benefited only a few individuals to the detriment of the generality of Zambians for whom it is meant.
"Let us be bold enough as heads of departments here and explain these benefits of the removal of fuel to our people,” Mr Shamenda said.
He called on the public service workers in the district to remain progressive and join hands with government in ensuring that the money saved from withdrawal of subsidy is ploughed back into the economy to stimulate growth and ensure effective penetration of developmental projects for the general wellbeing of Zambians.
"For the first time, we have a government that is ready to ensure that funds realised from this savings is channelled into some select projects and social development schemes in a transparent and accountable manner. This was clearly emphasized by the Honourable Minister,” Mr Shamenda stated.
He further said that government is also reducing subsidies on farm inputs because Farm Input Support Program (FISP) is benefitting people who are not vulnerable.
Recently NAREP had issued a statement condemning what it called the unjustified increase in the take home benefits of senior government officials.
In a statement made available to the media by the party secretariat, NAREP explained that the increase was as a result of the fuel subsidy reduction and subsequent increase in the pump price of fuel.