Lusaka, 07 October 2020. 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 presented on 25th September, 2020.
We note 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.
As PSAf, our view is that this poor funding to important sectors such as education will stunt the country’s development socially and economically. This is inappropriate and against the guidance by SADC which stipulates that 15% of a country’s national budget should be directed to education. 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.
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. During the interactions, the children raised concern that the proposed 2021 budget has been inconsiderate of their needs. The pupils bemoaned the slow pace of construction and operationalization of health facilities and schools over the years.
Therefore, as they debate on the budget speech, we urge all members of parliament to emphasise the need for Government to tighten measures to ensure funds allocated to various sectors are given to the intended beneficiaries. We believe that doing so will help to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the poor and marginalised communities such as the children, the aged, orphans and the vulnerable people.
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.
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa