Zambia budget targets infrastructure
Lusaka – Zambia’s US$9 billion budget for 2013/14 will primarily focus on infrastructure development, education and health.
Presenting the budget to lawmakers in Lusaka on October 10, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said the government wanted to boost its infrastructure base as it seeks to transform Zambia into a middle-income country by 2030.
The 2013/14 budget is an increase of about US$1 billion over last year’s allocations. The previous budget also prioritised infrastructure rehabilitation as well as construction of new roads, healthcare amenities and other facilities.
The government plans to raise US$6b of the budget domestically, while the rest will come from co-operation partners and borrowing.
Twenty-five percent of the budget will be for infrastructure development.
Other areas the government seeks to plough its energies into include agriculture, with particular attention being paid to the livestock sector.
Money will also be poured into revamping tertiary education, building 53 secondary schools and upgrading 220 basic schools. Further, there are plans to build 150 new primary school classrooms in rural areas and 150 units for teachers’ housing.
The country’s external debt grew by 1.8 percent to US$3.3b as at September 30, 2012. This figure includes the US$750 million euro bond the government issued.
In 2013/14, the Government plans to achieve real GDP growth of above seven percent, attain an end of year inflation of not more than 6.5 percent, and increase international reserves to over three months import cover. International reserves presently stand at US$2.5b.
Other targets include maintaining sustainable public external debt levels so that the debt service and amortisation does not go beyond 30 percent of domestic revenues, as well as limit domestic borrowing to 2.5 percent of GDP and contain the overall deficit to not more than 6.6 percent of GDP.
The government has, however, frozen civil service recruitment for two years – a decision that has drawn the ire of opposition groups and some activists.
But the Zambia Institute for Chartered Accounts said the budget targets were achievable if government exercised financial discipline.