By Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
Yesterday we spent the afternoon in the company of the UPND President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema to reflect on some of the core issues Zambians want us to focus on.
1. We cannot go into government with the same culture of excess and extravagance that has disadvantaged millions of Zambians, much to and for the benefit of only a small group of individuals
2. We have to focus on creating and expanding opportunities for education, empowerment, employment, business for all Zambians; and break all undertones of political affiliation and nepotism as prerequisites for opportunity
3. We must and we will decisively deal with and address the issues affecting civil servants, among them teachers, the police, nurses and doctors
(a) Salaries, PAYE and other conditions of services
Note: The UPND has already proposed personal tax reforms which are expected to deliver wages rises ranging from 7% – 29%, with an average of 14%. This will arise from the expected PAYE tax reforms windfall of $1.5bn to $2bbn for the initial 5 year period.
(b) Pensions and retirement requirements
Note: The UPND has already proposed public pensions reforms which will see contributors into public pensions enjoy periodic, capped access to their pensions contributions for purposes of raising capital and other collateral requirements without resorting to expensive debt. This will enhance value for pensions money.
The UPND is also looking to transition civil servants away from institutional housing and much towards personal home ownership by leveraging opportunities within public pensions.
* Retirement requirements still under firm review
(c) Promotion and progression requirements.
Note: We cannot have people serving in acting positions in perpetuity. But this must be addressed as part of retirement reforms
(d) Overbearing deductions on civil servants payroll
– Higher education loan
Note: The UPND has already indicated that these deductions will be suspended, while attention will be refocused towards rebuilding the economy and expanding earning opportunities for our people
– National Health Insurance Scheme
Note: While the UPND remains committed to the idea of quality healthcare for all, we do not believe that a public health super structure, anchored on mandatory contributions, is the solution. The economy is currently too small and ailing. Our focus, therefore, will and shall be on growing the economy and realigning public expenditure towards key sectors such as health and education in the short to medium term.
– Newly introduced taxable allowances which were previously excluded from tax
Note: The obsession with taxing citizens has arisen out of the culture of excess and wastage by government. The UPND continues to emphasize a prudent culture of managing and applying public resources as a primary tax relief mechanism for all citizens.
*We also must update our tax legislation, such that all allowances incidental to the welfare of employees, and related to their able to do their work, must be reviewed for tax exemption.
4. We must win the war on government corruption. This costs Zambians an amount in excess of $2bn per annum
Note: The UPND has already made proposals for:
– Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) where Law Enforcement Agencies have verifiable and current evidence of corruption, money laundering activities by individuals
– Enhancing the funding and functional independence of frontline gatekeeping institutions such as the ACC and FIC for improved performance. We remain committed to legislative reforms that will make these institutions answerable NOT to the President but to the public.
– Instituting new guidelines for politicians, their families and entities in which politicians have a vested interest doing business with government. This has been the source of public procurement processes’ abuse by politicians.