Zambians have rightly reacted with concern to the announcement made by the Minister of Finance in Parliament this week that the economy is in trouble and that as a result, the PF Government will be seeking to borrow vast amounts of money in order to try and plug the financing gaps. This from a Government that in the previous 3 years has already accumulated the same level of debt as were accumulated in the 27 years before that sounds bad.
The current situation requires serious and immediate action, and a series of measures big and small. For example, it requires an end to waste. We have talked before about how Government costs are far too high, with Government living beyond its means and leaving the Zambian people in poverty as a result. We have compared the cost of the generous vehicle allowance senior government officials are entitled to, which includes two vehicles, maintenance and fuel costs, to the cost of teachers salaries and sinking boreholes. For the cost of just one car we could pay 50 teachers on K5,000 a month for a year. Think about the knock on benefits if this money was spent on teachers and education, compared with when it is spent on buying an imported car.
Looking at the bigger picture we need to open up sectors that offer strong prospects for growth and job creation. In the UPND we see particular opportunities in this respect for tourism, agro-processing and technology for example. By providing a stable policy environment, consulting widely and incentivising investment and business start-ups in these sectors we will not only move Zambia forward, but also greatly accelerate the pace of growth and the outlook for our future including creating jobs.
Further analysis and recommendations on this topic will be provided in our weekly policy statement on Monday 22 June.