By CANISIUS BANDA
Someday, poverty will end in Zambia. An appreciable measure of prosperity will dawn on nearly every household.
Through prudence in the management of our economy, Zambia will attain a level of financial wellbeing which will translate into improved quality of lives and greater longevity.
Zambia must always remain an ardent advocate of fair trade.
For anyone or country to trade, that one or country, must first have something tradeable.
It follows then that Zambia should invest in the production of goods and services that are tradeable both domestically and on the international market.
It is important that most of these goods and services are in the hands of citizens in terms of production and control.
Fair trade will ensure that Zambia gets its deserved share of returns, that neither the seller nor the buyer is ripped-off.
Here is a sample of some measures that will take us in this required direction.
Empowerment focus through entrepreneurship should always remain on citizens.
Business capacity needs to be developed in our citizens. This must start with the primary school. Our children ought to know what a cash flow is and its judicious management.
Over 60 percent of all government expenditure should be with citizen-owned enterprises.
International debt should be sold in exchange for authority for the buyer to co-run some State enterprises with the State.
In future, it should be Zambian companies that should retain 80 percent of each contract value and subcontract the 20 percent to foreigners or any other suitable entrepreneur for reasons of technicalities or other concerns.
Some other debt should be restructured, rescheduled and cancelled.
Fiscal discipline should be a non-negotiable tenet of managing our national budget with government expenditure following thorough suitability tests [political, economic and social].
A thorough audit of all State enterprises should be conducted with particular focus on their asset-Iiability ratios for purposes of valuation.
Further, another audit should be done of the privatisation that came with the third Republic to ascertain transparency, accountability and business fair play.
Those dubiously disposed off should be repossessed.
Two things must then happen to these State enterprises.
Some should be commercialised still under State control. Others should partially be privatised through acquisition of shares in them by partners [public private partnerships through the Zambia National Commercial Bank model].
Still under the authority of the Ministry of Works and Supply, maintenance of most pieces of government Infrastructure should be privatised [outsourced].
This will create jobs, improve efficiency and put money in people’s pockets.
These contracts ought to be ring-fenced so that they are exclusively reserved for Zambian citizens.
Note that not all roads should be in government hands.
A policy shift needs to occur to ensure that some roads are built and run by the private sector or through PPPs.
Further, some existing roads should be privatised. They should be run and maintained privately by, preferably, citizen-owned companies.
The same should occur to markets and bus stations. Some of these centres of commerce should either be privately run or co-run with the State.
Other players must emerge in the energy sector.
ZESCO cannot remain the sole producer, distributor [barring CEC], and vendor of electricity.
Off-national grid solutions need to be explored. For example, domestic consumption of electricity could come from privately-owned power stations that generate their electricity from waste [domestic and industrial].
This would ease the pressure off ZESCO, it would create jobs, improve efficiency in this sector, and lead to Zambia becoming an energy-exporting country. In addition, it would forever make Zambia clean and keep it green.
Importation of equipment for agro-processing need to attract little or no tax. This, in the long run, will translate into improved balance of payments for Zambia.
Further, Zambia needs to attain loan independence, a phenomenon which refers to the freedom to spend as one deems fit devoid of stifling or biased conditionalities from and enforced by the lender.
Absence of loan freedom is fraud committed by the lender. No one should lend another money and then tell them how to spend it!
The list of remedies for the recovery of our economy is long.
Unity, peace and the careful exploitation of our talents will eventually free us from poverty.
The future of Zambia is indeed bright. I see it.
Let us remain united, peaceful, and always thinking out our tomorrow.
Dr Canisius BANDA
Former UPND Vice President for Politics