Hakainde Hichilema (UPND) has kicked off the bid for your presidential vote with an interesting press release. Here are the key quotes relating to the economy :
“It is time to strengthen our economy to allow for job creation, stable prices and wealth redistribution. We can only do this through prudent economic management. We need a strong and stable economy to support our middle class and SMEs which are basically struggling for survival. The middle class and SMEs are key to economic growth. We must support our economic development with a strong agriculture sector, free appropriate and good quality education, and quality healthcare”
“We must continue with the infrastructure development but at an accelerated pace. Infrastructure is the conduit for economic development. I have always maintained that where a good road goes, development goes. Nonetheless, infrastructure development must be done in such a manner that it does not hurt economic fundamentals. We must increase our revenue collection capacity to fund our infrastructure as opposed to borrowing expensive money. And in some cases we must partner with the private sector (Private Public Partnerships) so as to reduce pressure on the public purse”
From the above we can summarise that HH is promising free and good quality education and health care. He also broadly plans to continue Sata’s infrastructure delivery. HH plans to deliver this via increasing "revenue collection capacity” rather than “borrowing expensively”. This could either mean more taxes on ordinary Zambians or mantaining the new mining fiscal regime which is facing a serious backlash.
What voters really need to ask HH and UPND is what the UPND budget plans for 2015 and 2016 look like. This should be easy for HH to provide since he already has access to the Draft Budget 2015 and the associated Yellow Book. It should not be too difficult to put together a shadow budget with clarity on the tax and spending structure for those two years showing winners and losers.
If Zambians have learnt anything from the last three years is that they need real plans not just empty promises. This is not to say HH is putting forward empty promises. We are simply saying it is not tangible enough. At present it lacks credibility, until new details are provided.
Economist | Researcher
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