Latest price hikes send more millions into poverty

Latest price hikes send more millions into poverty

 

By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member

It is important for us to mention, that in respect of both fuel and electricity pricing, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has consistently provided sound alternatives aimed at giving consumers extended relief through the recall or suspension of controllable cost components in respect of the pump price of fuel, and a complete reform of the fuel supply chain to eliminate unnecessary costs. The UPND has also provided insights directed at improving functional and management efficiencies at ZESCO to remove pricing inefficiencies which cost both ZESCO and consumers money.

Under proposals by the UPND, the pump price of fuel should and can cost at least 25% or K4 LESS than under the current PF regime, and we have demonstrated which cost components can be recalled or adjusted downwards:

1.Suspending excise duty
2.Suspending strategic reserve fund fee
3. Halving Value Added Tax (VAT)
4. Cancel dealer margin

The aforementioned fuel pump price components are firmly under the control of government, but instead of the PF leveraging this position to stabilize the pump price, they are exploiting these controllable margins to benefit government officials, party officials, the party and their business associates.

But the Patriotic Front regime has continued their reckless attack on the poor majority Zambians by pursuing destructive public policies which impoverish the most poor while increasing the advantage of the wealthy minority, particularly the political ruling elites.

With the current loadshedding estimated to cost a minimum $7bn, it is poor households who are poised to be sacrificed at the altar of satanic political practices of the PF, through loss of incomes, jobs and with 1 in every 3 small businesses set to buckled down as the pressure of loadshedding mounts – with energy related business costs up by at least 35% per month.

Thus, for the PF to sabotage what is left of already thinned out household incomes, jobs and small businesses by sanctioning a 10% and 200% hike in the price of fuel and electricity respectively, they have just magically condemned an estimated 1.5 million more Zambians from poorer households into abject poverty. In a few months, once the real effects of PF’s failed economics kick in, we shall have at least 12.1 million Zambians living on less than $1.25 ( around K17.47) per day. And these will be the lucky ones because close to 800,000 will not be guaranteed not even a single meal in a free and independent Zambia as food inflation is expected to rise to above 12% while incomes shrink and disappear.

And in the midst of all this misery, President Edgar Lungu proceeded to insulting the collective conscience of Zambians by offering Zambians a paltry K4,471.86 per month from his TAX FREE salary, while he and his friends maintain all their other TAX FREE allowances as granted themselves under an inequitable Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Emoluments) Act, Cap 262. These ludicrous tax exemptions on allowances are given unto themselves under Section 3(1) and (2).

The reason the President’s offer of a “paycut” makes a mockery of all of us is because those other lower ranking civil servants the President wants to withdraw 10% – 15% of their salaries actually have to pay tax on all their emoluments, including allowances.

This is what leadership incompetence looks like and this is what a regime increasingly out of touch with reality looks like, and this is certainly what a regime that has run out of progressive development ideas looks like.

It is time for citizens to deliver the change they deserve.

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