By Derrick Silimina
With the nation eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2024 National Budget, the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) has outlined its expectations for the upcoming fiscal year, placing particular emphasis on two key sectors – Extractives and Agriculture.
In a statement, CTPD Programmes Coordinator Natalie Kaunda said the trade policy and development think tank expects an increase in government funding allocation to the mining industry.
Kaunda noted that historically, the ministry of mines has received low funding for operations, which has undermined the growth of the mining sector.
“Our expectation is for an adjustment to ensure a more substantial financial commitment, specifically for geological mapping. The Geological Survey Department (GSD) remains underfunded, hindering our ability to understand the extent of our mineral wealth. The mining sector has potential to significantly contribute to Zambia’s prosperity if properly resourced,” she said.
Furthermore, Kaunda states that CTPD expects clear initiatives and strategies to support artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) as the formalisation of the ASM sub-sector continues to remain imperative, and anticipates the government to outline pragmatic steps to achieve this in the 2024 budget.
She stressed that considering the global shift toward cleaner energy sources, Zambia holds valuable critical minerals.
“We expect the 2024 National Budget to outline strategies that harness these resources to propel the country into the energy transition era,” Kaunda said.
In the agriculture sector, she highlighted that CTPD anticipates the launch of the Comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Strategy and Plan (CATSP) and its subsequent implementation in the 2024 budget.
The Programmes Coordinator hinted that the CATSP will be instrumental in allocating resources for crop production and infrastructure development within the agriculture sector. Further, we expect the government to announce measures to reduce the cost of critical agricultural farming inputs.
She further urged the government to institute measures focusing on closing the Value Added Tax (VAT) gap, which remains well above 20 percent as efforts to enhance VAT compliance and enforcement are expected, especially in addressing VAT claims within the various industries.
Additionally, the centre outlined that the devolution plan needs strengthening adding that the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises should coordinate closely with relevant line ministries and stakeholders to ensure effective implementation.
CTPD has since acknowledged the challenges facing the energy sector, including low funding.
“Our expectation is for the government to promote private-public partnerships to attract much-needed investment in this vital sector. The 2024 National Budget presents a critical opportunity to shape Zambia’s economic future. CTPD remains committed to constructive engagement with the government and stakeholders for the benefit of all Zambians,” Kaunda added.