By FRANK MUKUPA
GOVERNMENT should develop and implement a credible debt management plan which prioritises social sector spending, the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) has said.
Speaking during the launch of the findings of the study dubbed ‘implications of public debt on expenditure towards children’ in Lusaka yesterday, CTPD researcher, Bright Chizonde said there was a risk that Zambia would fail to achieve both its vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to debt servicing.
He said the view that in taking steps towards achieving fiscal consolidation through implementing austerity measures and improved debt management, social sector spending should not be crowded out.
Mr Chizonde said the paper seeks to assess how public debt had affected government spending towards the attainment of child-centered Vision 2030 goals and SDGs.
“There is need for government to mitigate against the negative effect of interest payments on its allocations towards the education sector adding that education is critical for development and thus the need to prioritise the sector,” Mr. Chizonde said.
He said the 2019 and 2020 National Budgets had increased the allocation towards debt servicing from 19 percent to 27 percent and 27 percent to 31.8 percent respectively, while reducing percent share allocations towards health, education and social protection.
This therefore, he said, necessitated an inquiry into how debt accumulation had affected the nation’s ability to spend on social and developmental programmes, especially those related to children.
“Furthermore, as a result of increased debt servicing, Zambia risks failing to achieve both its Vision 2030 and the SDGs,” he said.
Mr Chizonde implored government to mitigate against the negative effect of interest payments on its allocations towards the education sector.
“It is commendable that debt accumulation has not affected public investment towards children within the health sector.
Even though the health outcomes may well be attributed to continued donor support, government should not reduce its health expenditure,” he advised.