The Non Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is worried by the ever-increasing cost of living in the country and the ‘I don’t care attitude’ by the PF government especially ailing president Michael Sata.
Reflecting on the incoherent and jumbled speech Sata gave to parliament last month, NGOCC director Engwase B. Mwale says NGOCC is saddened that despite the high cost of living, Sata’s speech did not provide tangible policy interventions to address this situation, which has far-reaching consequences especially on the poor majority Zambians.
Mwale said that according to the JCTR Basic Needs Basket for Lusaka for the month of August 2014, a family of six needs K3, 742.60 and that ‘this is obviously far above the reach of most Zambians’.
She said ‘It is therefore our expectation that the government will increase the Income Tax-free threshold from the current K3, 000 to K4, 000 per month to enable most of the working poor meet their basic needs.
‘We also hope that Government will zero rate Value Added Tax (VAT) in the 2015 National Budget on essential food items such as maize meal, sugar, milk, cooking oil, bread, beef, salt and baby formulae to mention but just a few.’
Mwale also said her organization is disappointed that Sata’s speech lacked direction on the Constitution making process.
‘NGOCC has noted with sadness that the President in his speech did not give a clear road map on the enactment of the new constitution. NGOCC has been calling on government to allocate enough resources for a National Referendum for the adoption of the new constitution. This will enable the country enact a truly people driven constitution. Government should provide a legal framework for the constitution making process.
‘However, from the Presidential speech, there seems to be no political will on the part of the PF government to give the Zambian people the long awaited people driven constitution,’ she said.
The NGOCC boss urged the PF regime to rise to the challenge and deliver the constitution NOW to the people of Zambia.
Mwale further said the NGOCC also expects the PF government, in the 2015 Budget, to reintroduce the Windfall Tax on the mines to maximize revenue collection for social delivery. She said the current mine tax obligations are below the expected contributions to the economy for substantial economic growth and job creation.
‘It is our hope that once reintroduced, the resources raised from the collection of Windfall Taxes will be allocated to strategic sectors of the economy, including health, education, social protection, and agriculture. These sectors have the potential of bridging the gender gaps,’ she explained.