By ALICE NACHILEME
Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is concerned with Zambia’s reduced budgetary allocation to the education, health and social protection sectors as proposed by Finance Minister, Dr Bwalya Ng’andu in his 2021 National Budget Speech.
PSAF Executive Director Vusumuzi Sifile said that for the past five years, funding to the education, health and social protection sectors has been constantly reducing.
‘For example, funding to the education sector reduced to 15.3% and 12.4 % in 2019 and 2020 respectively from about 20.2 % in 2015 and other previous years,” he said.
Mr Sifile said the view of PSAf, is that this poor funding to important sectors such as education will stunt the country’s development socially and economically.
He said this is inappropriate and against the guidance by SADC which stipulates that 15% of a country’s national budget should be directed to education.
Mr Sifile said the reduced financing for education, health and social protection also contradicts Zambia’s aspirations of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) which speaks to national development without leaving anyone behind.
“Our interactions with the most vulnerable populations in the country have further revealed that most people are unsatisfied and opposed to the contents of the proposed 2021 national budget, saying it is unresponsive to the needs of vulnerable, especially children in rural areas. This will make it difficult to leave no one behind in the country’s development,” he said.
He said Last week, in collaboration with the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) and through funding from Save the Children, we facilitated discussions among school going children in Kasama, Northern Zambia.
Mr Sifile has urged members of parliament to emphasize the need for Government to tighten measures to ensure funds allocated to various sectors are given to the intended beneficiaries.
“We also call on the media and civil society organisations to continue providing an oversight platform to ensure that even the reduced funds allocated for education, health, and social protection are used for their intended purposes,” he said.