By Scoop Reporter

THE Ministry of Finance is mismanaging the economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has charged.

Mr. Hichilema says in their usual Patriotic Front (PF) style, the seven-page long and rambling Ministerial Statement presented to Parliament is full of a flowery and deceiving language.

He says contrary to the sugar-coating in the statement, the 2020 revenue shortfall will be K17.2 billion, of which the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) will miss its target of K53.9 billion, by a staggering K6.9 billion.

He says despite the shortfall in revenues, the PF will increase the 2020 expenditure by K9.7 billion and that this simply means that in 2020 the financing gap or deficit in revenues will be K26.9 billion.

He says in the only constant in PF Governance style is continued policy inconsistencies and reversals.

“Less than a month ago on 25 June 2020, Mr. Edgar Lungu informed the nation that his Cabinet approved the issuance of a COVID 19 bond to stimulate the hemorrhaging economy. And that the beneficiaries were going to be; retirees and those on the separatees payroll, suppliers of goods and services, and small-medium enterprises (SME).

“But in a sudden U-turn, the Minister of Finance has unilaterally decided to reverse the decision of the Cabinet and allocate the funds raised on the Covid-19 economic recovery fund, payment of civil servant loan deductions to microfinance institutions that government spent on other activities after deducting the said amounts from our hard-working public servants, drugs and equipment procurement, grain purchases, and other unknown areas.

“Our advice to PF is that stop this unplanned and uncoordinated borrowing. Cut all the unnecessary expenditures, starting with the large payroll for the politicians. It is unacceptable that you should add another K26.9 billion or $1.5 billion to the already massive and unsustainable debt. We are in this trouble because of this same reckless behaviour,” Mr. Hichilema said.

He says the K3.2 billion Government wants to spend on the opaque presidential slush fund should be directed to SMEs through established institutions in a transparent manner.

He says spending this money on politically-connected and exposed persons will not rejuvenate the economy through the creation of employment and payment of taxes by the deserving businesses.

“Range Rovers, vast numbers of houses without known owners and other luxurious purchases do not in any way develop the economy. Finally, for once learn to spend the money you hold in trust for the people in a transparent manner. Transparency and accountability remain the hallmark of good governance,” he said.

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