Zambia headed for K5 billion deficit, reveals Nawakwi

Former Finance Minister Edith Nawakwi says the country risks being in a K5 billion deficit due to unbudgeted for expenditure.

But Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has maintained that the budget is on course.

And Nawakwi, who is now the Forum for Democracy and Development leader, says there is need to clean up the UNZA payroll.

Speaking on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme on Friday, Nawakwi challenged finance minister Alexander Chikwanda to shed light on expenditure concerns from local and the international communities.

“I would like the Minister of Finance to shed light on this; by the end of this fiscal year, this country will be in deficit by K5 billion – US$1 billion – because of unbudgeted for expenditures such as by-elections,” Nawakwi said.

She said Chikwanda had allowed the government to go on a spiral of reckless expenditure, which would result in high inflation.

“There are no brakes. I think in the history of the country, this is the second minister who has gone on free-fall expenditure,” Nawakwi said.

She said it was Chikwanda’s duty to control expenditure and advise President Michael Sata correctly.

“He has to say ‘no’ even to the President, that we can’t afford, because a president is a politician; and we expect the Minister of Finance to be a technocrat because he holds the future of the country in his hands; he has to say ‘no’ to the point of being called rude or whatever… And if you don’t agree with the President, you resign. There are many ministers and chancellors who have resigned because the policy direction differs with the head of state but it looks like my elder brother Chikwanda is ‘Mr Yes’,” Nawakwi said.

She said the President wanted to deliver as he knew what the people wanted.

“He can start one million bridges, the only one who can stop him is the minister himself, by saying that ‘no we can’t afford this, can you tell your people can we do it in 2016 or 2017′.

And the President can say ‘yes’. There is no President who can say no to good advice. But if there is free-fall expenditure, it squarely lands on the Ministry of Finance,” Nawakwi said.

But Yamba said there was a budget that was approved and the ministry would follow it.

“The demands in any country are so many, so we determine how much we are going to spend on the basis of how much we are going to collect. So no matter what the demands are, you cannot over-commit,” said Yamba.

And Nawakwi said the law should be very clear that a member who resigns their seat must never recontest.

“A member who is caught in illegalities, electoral malpractices, must never be allowed to re-contest because it is a penal offence,” she said.

Nawakwi said if elected president, she would personally want to refurbish existing infrastructure before embarking on new ones.

“… such as the University of Zambia before I put up another university. UNZA is in dire need of money. When the Minister of Finance was paying increments to the lecturers, I requested that we clean up the payroll at the institution. The payroll at UNZA is of people who have been retired; they are still in university housing, they are teaching at other private universities and still earning salaries from the university. That is creating stress for the budget of UNZA,” Nawakwi said.


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