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Civil Society calls for pro-poor budget

Action AID Zambia has urged government to increase budget allocations towards empowerment programs targeting women and youths in the 2019.

And Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) Chairman, Yusuf Dodia has called for more funding in the 2019 budget towards value addition programs to enhance the realization of Zambia’s Industrialization Policy.

Action AID Country Director, Nalucha Ziba said the 2019 National Budget should avail more funding towards economic and empowerment programs targeting women and youths engaged in various productive sectors of the economy.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the 2019 National Budget presentation to parliament by Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe this Friday, Ms. Ziba said the budget should be centered on pro-poor policies to propel programs that support women and young people to come out of poverty.

“Most women and youths fall in the poverty bracket in Zambia therefore they need to be fairly targeted with certain empowerment interventions… we expect that the 2019 budget will push more resources towards these interventions to help most of these women and youths come out of poverty,” Ms. Ziba said.

Ms. Ziba said her organization is expecting more resources planned to be allocated to the agriculture sector to be channeled towards empowering women and youths with productive resources such as land and agriculture equipment.

“When it comes to agriculture it is not enough for women and youths to only have access to land but ownership of land under which they are undertaking farming is very crucial because they can use that land as collateral to access further funding to boost their capacities,” Ms. Ziba said.

Ms. Ziba noted that once empowered, women and youths will be able to venture into value addition for most of the products they are producing thereby contributing to the realization of the country’s diversification policy.

She said there was need for holistic policies and programs to push women and young people into agriculture by creating supportive frameworks through stable and adequate financing.

“We believe that agriculture has potential but we need to have policies and programs to try and attract youths and women into it for them to become key players when it comes to value addition and growing agro manufacturing base for the country,” Ms. Ziba said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ziba has called on government to provide for more funding towards the education sector for procurement and actualization of provision of free sanitary towels to girls in schools.

She observed that the actualization of the free sanitary towels program will ensure retention of girls in school and positively impact government’s vision of providing universal access to education in the country by 2030.

“The allocation of resources to provide sanitary towels in the 2018 budget was a welcome move but we want this program to be firmly supported by enough funding in the 2019 budget to benefit every girl child benefits so that no girl shall absent themselves from school because of periods,” Ms. Ziba said.

In the 2018 National Budget government provided for funding towards the procurement and provision of free sanitary towels to girls in schools in rural and peri-urban areas in the country.

And Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) Chairman, Yusuf Dodia says there is need for government to allocate more funding towards value addition programs in order to actualize the economic diversification policies in the country.

Mr. Dodia said more funding needed to be allocated towards the realization and utilization of the various Multi Facility Economic Zones (MFEZ) in the country in order to enhance value addition to raw materials such as copper and agricultural produce.

He noted that economic zones have potential to unlock economic fortunes of Zambia through value addition and provision of employment.

“Economic Zones such as the Chambeshi are not bearing fruit as at now… they should be taken care of in this year’s budget as these have an economic trickle-down effect and are bound to create employment once operational,” Mr. Dodia said.

Former Finance Minister Felix Mutati unveiled the 2018 national budget proposing to spend K71.6 billion or 25.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of which 68.5 percent of the total budget was planned to be financed from domestic revenues and 3.4 percent by grants from various co-operating partners while the balance of 28.1 percent was earmarked to be financed through domestic and external borrowing.

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