President opens parliament with long list of policy pledges
President Michael Sata opened the second session of the 11th National Assembly yesterday and in so doing laid out his government’s policies for the new session.
The speech (full text here) covered a wide range of policy areas including education health, youth unemployment, land reform and the progress on the new constitution. The president also announced the aim of the government to be to create one million new jobs in the next five years.
The most relevant parts of the speech are as below:
“Budget execution continues to improve. By the end of June 2012, government had released more than 75 per cent of the budget with most of the ministries and spending agencies having received more than half of their 2012 allocations.”
“In this vein, my government is in the process of establishing a government wide monitoring and evaluation system which will enhance resource allocation and evaluation system to projects and tracking of policy performance including support of results based management.”
“My administration is ready to address the challenges that the Zambian economy is faced with. In this regard, the government will continue to maintain strong fiscal prudence to ensure that resources are used wisely.
Further, it will curtail non-priority expenditures to ensure that key programmes aimed at poverty reduction and employment creation are given due priority.”
“Going forward, my government is determined to foster inclusive social and economic development.
In this respect we shall:
1) Enhance the expansion and diversification of the economy;
2) Ensure the promotion of foreign direct investment while doing everything to foster local investment;
3) Sustain a single digit inflation rate and continue to work towards effectively reducing the interest rate;
4) Enhance domestic resource mobilization;
5) Significantly increase employment; and
6) Limit government borrowing to sustainable levels to avoid putting a huge burden on prosperity.
Mr. Speaker, the overall growth strategy is to increase growth to an average of eight per cent per annum. While in the medium and long term, the sixth national development plan and vision 2030 will remain the main development frameworks of the country, government shall pursue the growth strategy in line with the Patriotic Front manifesto, National Budget 2013.
Mr. Speaker, the 2013 national budget which will be presented to this august house will be the first under the direction of the patriotic front government.
In this regard, the budget will ensure that economic growth is inclusive and pro-poor. The focus will be on the strategic areas of education, health, agriculture, local government and housing and improved governance, with emphasis on rural development.
To enhance government revenue, the focus will be on reviewing the current tax system. Further, government is determined to significantly reduce tax evasions leakages through strengthening the framework for granting fiscal incentives and enhancing audit trails to ensure export volumes are accurately declared.
Further, government will continue the process of widening the tax base by; among other measures, ensuring tax compliance.”
“My government’s policy objective on agriculture is to achieve a dynamic, competitive, diversified and sustainable agricultural sector which assures national food security and increased incomes at all levels. In this regard, government will continue to strengthen household production and to promote investment in agro-processing thereby increase employment opportunities.
Mr. Speaker, in line with the Patriotic Front manifesto, my government will establish associated irrigation schemes for smallholder, medium and large scale commercial farming in high potential areas across the country. In the next five years, government shall progressively bring 17,000 hectares of land under irrigation. Government will also continue to make available additional land for the development of farm blocks.
The infrastructure development of the farm blocks started with Nansanga and has since been extended to Luena farm block in Kawambwa with more than k40 billion released this year for the development. Mr. Speaker, my government has continued to support our small scale farmers with agricultural inputs under the farmer input support programme. During the 2012/13 agricultural season, about 900,000 farmers will be supported with seed and fertilizer. Traditionally, this support has been focused on maize and rice.
My government will this year broaden support to sorghum, groundnuts and cotton. Packs for rice and the new crops will only be available in selected districts with comparative advantage. Mr. Speaker, this year, my government will purchase a total of one million metric tonnes of grain in order to safeguard national food security. To this end, I am directing the minister of agriculture and livestock to urgently finalise the revision of the food reserve agency act in order to pave way for participation of the private sector.
My government has started the process of rehabilitating five previously disused grain silos in Chisamba, Kabwe, Kitwe, Monze and Ndola.
Furthermore, my government intends to construct seven new grain silos in Chinsali, Kkalomo, Kasama, Mansa, Mufumbwe and Petauke districts with a total storage capacity of 225,000 metric tonnes. Our target is to have a national storage capacity of two million metric tonnes as a minimum requirement. In addition, my government encourages private sector investment in the construction and management of new grain storage facilities.
Mr. Speaker, in order to further develop the livestock sector, my government has intensified the livestock restocking programme, construction of livestock service centres and rehabilitation of breeding centres in various parts of the country. We have also intensified animal disease control mechanisms. My government also plans to rehabilitate and restock idle state ranches in Mporokoso and Senanga.
Mr. Speaker, my government is addressing the challenge of depleting fish stocks in our rivers and lakes. In this regard, the last session of this august house enacted a new fisheries act. In addition, fish breeding centres are being constructed across the country in order to increase the stock of fish. In a bid to generate wealth and employment, my government will facilitate the establishment of commercial fish farming parks around the country. Under this arrangement, the government will acquire land, service it and lease it to both local and foreign investors to set up fish farms.”
“As a way of bringing public services, decision making and development closer to the people, the patriotic front government has in the past year created 15 new districts namely; Sinda, Vubwi, Chembe, Chipili, Lunga, Mwansabombwe, Chilanga,Chirundu, Rufunsa, Shibuyunji, Nsama, Chikankata, Pemba, Zimba and Mulobezi. This has increased the number of districts in the country from 74 to 89.
The creation of these new districts will lead to infrastructure development in the areas as a result of increased transfers of resources from the central government to the districts. This will in turn attract private sector investment in the new districts and consequently expand job opportunities around the country. It must, however, be appreciated that making these new districts fully operational will require huge resources for infrastructure development and other logistics, which given the size of our economy, will require more time to be fully realised. In spite of this, my government is committed to mobilising the necessary resources for them.”
“Mr. Speaker, foreign direct investment is critical to the continued growth and development of this country. For 2012, the target for foreign direct investment was 4 billion United States dollars. The approved projects as at 30th June 2012 were above target standing at 4.7 billion United States dollars. This is a reflection of the confidence in the Zambian economy and attractiveness of our investment climate.
Let me reaffirm that as a country, we seek both local and foreign investment. In this regard, my government will enhance investment promotion and implementation of public private partnerships by merging the Zambia Development Agency and the public private partnership unit to establish an industrial development commission in line with the PF manifesto. The new entity shall, among other things promote investment, industrial development and deepen reform of state owned enterprises. Mr. Speaker, regional integration presents Zambian enterprises with a large export market whose experience we can use to penetrate the international markets. To this end, my government shall reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporters and importers in order to gain from international and regional trade.”
“Mr. Speaker, the mining sector has continued to perform well. This is due to the favourable investment climate prevailing in our country, coupled with high prices of metals. Government will continue with the mines development programme to attract investment in both large and small scale mines in 2013. The focus will be on improving availability of geological information in order to stimulate exploration activities and subsequent opening of new mines.
Government is committed to ensuring that Zambians are empowered to own small scale mines. It is for this reason that my administration is taking appropriate measures to review the legal and regulatory framework in order to make this a reality. Through these measures, government will ensure that the people of Zambia also benefit from the boom in the mining industry. To enhance contribution of the mining sector to the treasury, government will put in place measures to strengthen verification of volume and value of mineral exports. Infrastructure development.”
“Mr. Speaker, my government will continue to energetically take steps to accelerate growth through building infrastructure such as roads, rail, airports, border facilities and power stations. In my address last year, I committed government to embarking on a robust road construction and rehabilitation programme. I am pleased to inform the house that under the link Zambia project, government will upgrade at least three major road projects in each of Zambia’s ten provinces over a five year period.
Mr. Speaker, the railway network in the country is in a state of disrepair and urgent attention is needed in order to reduce stress on our roads. In this regard, government will reposition itself in improving the rail sector to promote economic development. In a bid to have additional railway lines, the government has commissioned a pre-feasibility study to extend the Chipata-Mchinji railway line to join the Tanzania-Zambia railway authority line at either Mpika or Serenje. Furthermore, in order to ease air transport, plans to upgrade provincial airfields are in place. Funds have also been disbursed towards rehabilitation of some district aerodromes.”
“Mr. Speaker, my government shall continue to promote investment in information and communications technology and expand the fiber optic network. This will ensure that telecommunications and information technology services are affordable and available throughout the country, including the rural areas to bridge the digital divide.”
Mr. Speaker, my government remains committed to ensuring that security of supply of petroleum products to the nation is maintained at all times. We are also committed to ensuring that the price of petroleum products throughout the country is maintained at affordable levels in order to stimulate economic activities, especially in rural areas.
In order to achieve these objectives, government has continued to increase fuel storage capacity through the construction and refurbishment of provincial fuel depots. Construction of fuel depots in Lusaka, Mongu, Mpika and Solweziis underway and will be completed this year. This measure will enhance security of supply of petroleum products as well as ensure affordability of fuel throughout the country. Furthermore, my government will continue with the implementation of the uniform petroleum pricing programme in order to accelerate economic activities.
Mr. Speaker, I regret to note that the country continues to experience load-shedding which has disrupted many economic activities and peoples’ normal way of life. In this regard, my government has prioritised the implementation of projects aimed at increasing the national generation capacity of electricity as well as promoting energy efficiency. These measures will enable us meet the upswing in demand caused by increased economic activities.
In order to ensure reliability and quality of supply of electricity in our country, particularly in Northern, Muchinga, Luapula and Eastern provinces, my government recently commissioned the construction of the 330 kilo volts Pensulo–Kasama transmission line and the 330 kilo volts Pensulo-Lusiwasi-Msoro-Chipata transmission line. Furthermore, government has been up-scaling the capacity at Kariba north power station to help meet the deficit.
Mr. Speaker, government is promoting other energy sources such as coal and heavy fuel oil, to generate electricity in order to complement hydropower. In this regard, government is facilitating construction of the Maamba coal-fired thermal 300 megawatt power station. The heavy fuel oil 50 megawatt plant in Ndolawill come on-stream early next year. These developments will ensure that the energy sector plays its meaningful role in national economic development.”
Mr. Speaker, my government created the ministry of tourism and arts as part of the efforts to improve the policy and institutional framework for our economic diversification programme and to enhance employment and wealth creation opportunities.
In this regard I wish to direct the Minister of Tourism and arts to enhance the creative industry’s contribution to economic development by establishing the National Arts and Culture Commission in line with the PF manifesto and to accelerate the development of new tourism sites such as the northern circuit and many others. Mr. Speaker, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be co-hosting the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in August 2013.
I am happy to inform this august house that preparations for this important event are on course. President Mugabe and I gave a boost to the preparatory process when we signed the co-hosting agreement on 30th May, 2012.”