THE 2014 National Budget presented to Parliament yesterday has invariably set the pace for a robust development agenda anchored on critical sectors of the economy, namely agriculture, construction, tourism, manufacturing and mining.
Taking centre-stage is infrastructure development which is being rolled out to all parts of the country particularly improvement to the road network.
With K5.1 billion going towards infrastructure development, it is expected that the country's face will improve significantly including the new districts that will in the fiscal year get K550 million.
No doubt the construction industry will trigger massive employment opportunities as the Government accelerates infrastructure development not only in the road sub-sector but in core areas such as health where the Government expects to spend K4.2 billion and education with K8.6 billion allocation.
High unemployment and poverty levels are interrelated encumbrances that are stalking a large portion of Zambia's population, hence the Government's resolve to go full throttle in various development programmes that will accommodate the vulnerable particularly the youth.
The Government has yet again provided cushion for lowly-paid workers by raising the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) exemption threshold to K3,000 from K2,200.
In the past, the cry from the trade union movement was the need for the Government to give relief to the members.
Since assuming office about two years ago, the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has been responsive in addressing concerns raised by workers.
Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in fact did state yesterday that the raising of the PAYE exempt threshold is a plus for the workers who under the previous administration were heavily taxed despite clarion calls for relief.
The upward adjustment to the PAYE exempt threshold will certainly serve as a motivating factor and improve productivity not only in the public service but also in the productive sectors.
Yes, the 2014 Budget theme, 'Moving Forward to Consolidate Growth and Social Justice in Peace and Unity,' is apt considering the commitment thus far exhibited by the current administration.
The countryside was for a long time neglected and it is only in the past two years that a glimmer of hope has emerged, what with the creation of more than 90 districts and an additional province - Muchinga.
This will significantly lead to the redistribution of wealth evenly as opposed to concentrating development along the line of rail.
It is important to note that in 2013, monetary policy focused on achieving an end-year inflation of six per cent though as at last month inflation remained above seven per cent largely because of inflationary pressures, associated with the removal of fuel and maize subsidies.
The Government should thus ensure that inflation does not spin out of control and also work hard to achieve economic growth of seven per cent. This will help translate macro-economic gains achieved so far into tangible benefits for the general citizenry.
As the Finance Minister rightly pointed out during his presentation to Parliament, the greatest strength for Zambia is peace and unity.
Zambians must therefore play their part through various means and avenues and must remain patriotic as well as peaceful.
Political players who include opposition leaders should support the development agenda at the same time provide checks and balances without fomenting trouble.
This country requires mature and peaceful politics which both the opposition and ruling party leaders should embrace in order to successfully push the country forwards.
As the Government fine-tunes the development agenda, there is an imperative need to ensure fiscal discipline and prudent management of public resources.
We urge Members of Parliament to be level-headed as they start debating the National Budget on Tuesday next week.