2018 budget has failed to cut poverty, says CSPR
Civil Society for Poverty Reduction executive director Patrick Nshindano says the 2018 national budget has failed to address the high poverty levels due to reduced spending on social sectors.
And Nshindano has said many Zambians have fallen into the poverty trap due to high levels of vulnerability of the poor to economic shocks.
Meanwhile, Nshindano says the crowding out effect of Zambia’s debt on social spending due to high interest repayments has devastating impact and undermines efforts to reduce poverty beyond the point of failure.
In an interview with News Diggers! Saturday, Nshindano said the budget rates for social protection had recorded a sharper decline in 2018 compared to 2017 with the lowest being at 42 per cent.
“The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction has noted with concern the continued low disbursements to key social sector programmes, including the Constituency Development Fund, undermining both poverty reduction efforts and the effective implementation of the 7NDP plan. We have observed that the national budgets have failed to ensure that they effectively address the high poverty levels due to low budget credibility and under-spending, especially on social sectors. CSPR analysis of actual expenditure has continued to record significant under-spending. Under-spending of the budget of over 10 per cent is indicative of a violation of the obligation to dedicate maximum available resources to the realization of the set programme objectives and indeed a violation of the right to education, healthcare, water and sanitation, social protection etc,” Nshindano said.
“Social sector budgets in the five poorest provinces monitored by CSPR which included Western, North-western, Luapula, Southern and Eastern Provinces indicated an average of 64 per cent budget execution for the period 2018. Social protection (48 per cent) and Water supply and sanitation (42 per cent) had the lowest budget execution rates. Unlike other sectors, budget execution rates for social protection have recorded a sharper decline in 2018 compared to 2017.”
And Nshindano said the country’s high debt and related repayments were undermining poverty reduction efforts.
“We further note that the countries current debt position continues to be a major risk on social sector expenditure. The crowding out effect of debt on social spending due to high interest repayments has devastating impact as it undermines efforts to reduce poverty beyond the point of failure to implement pro-poor programmes to the extent of facilitating for more citizens to actually fall into the poverty trap due to high level of vulnerability of the poor to economic shocks with little or no coping mechanisms, coupled with weak social protection programs that ideally should provide the necessary cover,” said Nshindano.
“This is even made worse as the little resources meant for the poor are delayed in terms of disbursements and become increasingly erratic, including cash transfers subjecting the poor and vulnerable to unbearable living conditions. To this regard, despite the current economic challenges faced by the country, we expected the government to ensure timely and adequate disbursements are made to pro-poor sectors. Poverty reduction is best served through general public expenditure investment and management processes and thereby strengthen public service provision.”