Dr Ng’andu said this in his winding up speech on the motion of supply for the 2020 national budget.
“…second and widely repeated concern expressed mainly by members on your left, Madam Speaker, was that the amount allocated to public order is excessive because it will only serve to enhance the capacity of the security personnel to tear gas innocent citizens. The truth Madam Speaker is that the allocation under this head is intended to facilitate the completion of various infrastructural projects such as housing units for men and women in uniform, modernize their equipment and provide other resources necessary for them to carry out their work and particularly replace obsolete equipment which is of no use in the face of the complexity of fighting crime and protecting the integrity of this country given the rapid change in technology. In addition, Madam Speaker, funding for these projects will come from disbursements of loans that have already been contracted and not from new borrowings,” Dr Ng’andu said.
“Madam Speaker, I’m also weary to think that the work of our men and women in uniform, some of whom put their lives on line every day in the course of duty, can be so trivialized as to be reduced to only that of throwing tear gases at people. I think it is totally inappropriate to characterise the work of our security service personnel as essentially being that of brutalising our people. On the contrary, we owe it them to honour them for their sacrifice and service to this country and one way in which we can do that is to equip them adequately to the extent that we can in order for them to continue to guarantee our safety as a people and as a nation.”
He said the budget was prepared against a backdrop of limited fiscal space which has affected the amount of discretionary resources available for the implementation of this budget.
“In so doing, I want to begin by stressing that the budget has been prepared against a backdrop of limited fiscal space which has affected the amount of discretionary resources available for the implementation of this budget. Consequently, it has had a telling effect on the amounts of resources allocated under the various heads of expenditure. To be able to stimulate economic activity, the budget proposes a number of measures to help individuals, small businesses and corporates gain access to this much needed liquidity,” Dr Ng’andu said.
” It is also pertinent for the House to note that notwithstanding the existing constrained fiscal space, this budget has not yielded to the temptation to adjust upwards direct taxes and VAT rates. This is meant to preserve disposable income in the hands of ordinary tax payers.”
He further said that the amount allocated to climate change covers funds for resilience projects.
“Madam Speaker, the third concern raised was that the amount allocated to climate change is too small and not commensurate with the pivotal position that has been given to climate change in this budget. In response to this, it is necessary to give context to the K611,777,853 shown in the budget under the Head Environment Protection. This amount specifically covers funds for Climate Change and Resilience Projects and the Zambia Integrated Forestry Landscape Project under the Ministry of National Development and Planning,” Dr Ng’andu said. “It also incorporates the Environment Management and Protection Project and the Zambia Environment Management Authority under the Ministry of Water Development and finally the Climate Policy Implementation and Forestry Management project under the Ministry of Lands and National Resources. The reduction in the allocation from 2019 to 2020 is due to the completion of the Itezhi Tezhi- Dundumwezi –Namwala Climate Resilient Road project.”
He, however, said the budget does respond more specifically to the climate change challenge.
“…with a number of measures which in part propose to; Suspend import duty on machinery used for the processing of solid waste to generate electricity and produce organic fertilizers; Abolish customs duty on liquefied petroleum gas; Increase carbon tax on motor vehicles entering Zambia by 20%; Remove VAT on stoves, other gas cookers and gas boilers. These measures are intended mainly to reduce dependence on hydro power and encourage the use of other sources of power for domestic and industrial consumption,” Dr Ng’andu said.
He expressed gratitude that Members of Parliament had gone past the stage of climate change denial.
“Madam Speaker, it is gratifying to note this House’s grave concerns expressed here regarding how government proposes to fund measures intended to increase this country’s capacity to meet the challenge of climate change. This suggests that this House has gone past the stage of climate change denial,” Dr Ng’andu said.
He said the 2020 budget has introduced a number of tax related measures to increase the revenue.
“The budget in addition introduces a number of tax related measures with the view to increasing revenue by proposing to; Limit input VAT claims on consumables, such as stationary, lubricants and spare parts for all entities except where these are stock in trade;
Charge customs duty at 10% on specialized mining capital equipment and machinery which currently are duty free or attract duty at 5%; Limit input VAT claims from mining companies on diesel at 70% from the previous 90%; Limit input VAT claims from mining companies on electricity at 80% from the current 100%,” said Dr Ng’andu.