Maputo — “It is not true that poverty is worse today than it was yesterday”, declared Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina on Thursday.
Winding up the two day debate in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on the government’s plan and budge for 2013, Vaquina dismissed opposition claims of ever-deepening immiseration, but said the government is well aware that there are many Mozambicans “for whom daily life is a battle for survival with no certainty”.
That, he said, was why the government was allocating the greater part of the 2013 budget to the priority sectors for poverty reduction. The percentage of the budget allocated to the priority sectors rises from 66.9 per cent in the 2012 budget to 71.5 per cent in 2013.
“The government has been increasing, year after year, the money available for agriculture, energy and other priority sectors”, he declared
Through implementation of the government’s Economic and Social Plan for the year, “we are addressing the main problems faced by our people”, added Vaquina. “But we cannot deal with all the problems at once. We have to start from somewhere – and we have to explain that the fight against poverty will take many years of hard work”.
He warned deputies not to confuse private investment with the money available for the state budget. While there was plenty of talk of the investment of hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars in mining and hydrocarbon projects, this was money from private companies and it was not in the hands of the state.
Mining projects “will bring benefits tomorrow, when they have been developed, and this will generate more funds for the state budget. We sow today to reap tomorrow”.
Vaquina pointed out that, despite improvements in tax collection, “our budget is still in deficit. We don’t generate enough money from our own economy to cover all our public expenditure”.
Responding to opposition complaints that only Frelimo supporters are given jobs in the state apparatus, Vaquina replied that recruitment to state bodies is done through public advertising, in accordance with legal norms, and candidates are only expected to produce documents proving their identity, nationality, age, criminal record and relevant academic qualifications.
Candidates are not asked to produce any document about their political or religious beliefs, he said, and anyone who is asked questions about their political affiliations when applying for a state job “should immediately denounce the fact”.
The Assembly will vote on the plan and budget on Friday.