BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
THE 2021 national budget must be planned with a focus of cushioning key sectors of the economy from the negative effects of COVID-19 as it is still uncertain on how the pandemic will evolve, says Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) Executive Director, Bernadette Deka-Zulu.
Finance Minister, Bwalya Ng’andu, is this Friday expected to present the 2021 national budget.
Ms Deka-Zulu stressed that it was imperative to factor in counter and cushion measures that would continue to shield the economy in an event that the negative effects of COVID-19 were still prevalent by next year.
She emphasised the need to make a strong resolve to continue working towards the path to recovery and growth as the 2021 national budget was being formulated.
“Key sectors that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic must be prioritised in the 2021 National Budget.
“Further, key components / programmes in the 2020 National Budget that may have not been implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may be considered under the 2021 National Budget,” she said in a statement yesterday.
PMRC, she said, remained optimistic with the 2021 national budget, as it had worked to contribute to the formulation through submissions and continued engagements with the Ministry of Finance.
She proposed urgent need to seek alternative financing for infrastructure projects especially the roads and airports that are currently being constructed.
Ms Deka-Zulu said there was also need to increase the use of local contractors in the implementation of these projects.
She further said the 2021 national budget should focus on supporting the mining industry’s cash flow.
Measures, Ms Deka-Zulu said, should include extensions of deadlines, offsets and deferrals of tax payments and review of the tax measures introduced as part of the 2020 Budget.
“The introduction of these relief measures would help with sustaining operations and advance buying to forestall supply chain interruptions.
“We propose that Government puts in place a fiscal regime that will attract the necessary investment, so that the mining sector can make a quick recovery, as it did in 2009 after the last global crisis. It is recommended that this should be put in place in 2021,” she said.