ZAMBIA is on course to achieving economic prosperity under President Michael Sata's administration which has so far scored a number of achievements since taking over Government in September 2011, Chief Government Spokesperson, Kennedy Sakeni has said.
Mr Sakeni, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, has pointed out the reinstatement of the Abuse of Office Clause in the Anti-Corruption Act as one significant achievement by the current Government.
Mr Sakeni said the clause had not only strengthened the fight against corruption but has helped restore donor and investor confidence in the country's economy and governance system.
"During the first six months of 2012, the total pledged investment of the approved projects amounted to US$4,154,209,065 with expected job creation of 18,778 opportunities for Zambian citizens.
"The increased investment pledges represent an increase of about 37 per cent when compared with slightly above $3 billion during the same period in 2011 with corresponding increase in expected employment opportunities from 17, 999 in 2011 to 18,778 representing a four per cent increase," he said.
Mr Sakeni said in a statement yesterday that preliminary statistics for the first quarter of 2012 also indicated an increase of 96.2 per cent in Non-Traditional Exports from US$305.9 million recorded in 2011 to $600.2 million recorded in the same period in 2012.
In addition, to support economic activity in the country, the PF Government has introduced a combination of reductions in the statutory reserve ratio, the core liquid asset ratio, the corporate tax rate for banks and the Bank of Zambia Policy Rate to induce a reduction in commercial banks' lending rates to an average of 16.6 per cent in August 2012 from 26.3 per cent in November 2011.
Mr Sakeni said the economy was poised to register a positive growth for 2012 with a GDP projection of above seven per cent, single digit inflation rate, decreasing rates and more than US$2 billion in foreign reserves.
He said the PF Government was committed to ensuring that good economic performance translated into tangible poverty reduction and wealth creation, especially at the grassroots level.
"Other milestone achievements include the increase in the tax exemption threshold and the upward revision of the minimum wage for low earners.
"The PF Government increased the tax exemption threshold from K1 million to K2 million. This means those earning below K2 million are not taxed," he said.
He said the PF Government had also recently adjusted the minimum wage by about 100 per cent, putting salaries for domestic workers at K522, 000 per month, while shop and general workers will now earn about K1.1 million.
On a similar note, Mr Sakeni said earlier in the year, hundreds of public workers were awarded a wage hike that saw some workers' wages rise on an average of between four and 15 per cent.
"The increment is the highest in decades and is in line with the 'more money in the pockets' campaign promise," he said.
Mr Sakeni said accountability and good performance would continue to be the focus of the PF Government in order to effectively respond to current and future challenges and efficiently bridge gaps in the implementation of the national development agenda.
In terms of budget execution, Mr Sakeni said by the end of June 2012, the Government had released 76.6 per cent of the budget allocation with most of the ministries and spending agencies having received above 50 per cent of their 2012 allocations.
He said it was in this vein that the Government was in the process of establishing a Government-wide monitoring and evaluation system which would enhance resource allocation and evaluation system to projects and tracking of policy performance, including support of results-based management.
"Under the experienced and inspirational leadership of His Excellency President Michael Chilufya Sata, the PF Government will continue to improve the management of the economy to ensure an inclusive growth through creating more jobs and most important of all, reduction in the high poverty levels," Mr Sakeni said.
He said the PF Government welcomed positive criticism and equally expected all stakeholders, including opposition leaders, to give praise when presented with facts on the country's economic performance.
Meanwhile, Government has said it will not allow any opposition political party to derail its progress of delivering its promises to the people of Zambia.
Mr Sakeni said the PF administration had in the last 11 months renewed and sustained donor confidence which had waned following the "wanton plunder" of public resources during the MMD rule.
The minister was reacting to assertions by Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi that the PF had lost popularity in Eastern Province because of its alleged failure to fulfill campaign promises.
Mr Sakeni said as for Eastern Province where Mr Milupi was politicking, President Sata, through Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, announced a massive roll-out of a developmental master plan for the province which would see the Government spend more than K576 billion on infrastructure projects.