By MAILESI BANDA

GOVERNMENT has paid about K6 billion in arrears from the 2017 budget with K1.1 billion going towards paying pensions and K1.4 billion to the agriculture sector, Minister of Finance Felix Mutati has said.

And the minister has announced that consultants have been engaged to evaluate State Owned Enterprises with the view of recapitalising those with a good business case.

Mr. Mutati said the dismantling of arrears was in an effort to stabilise the economy which has been the mandate of the government in 2017.

Mr. Mutati was speaking at the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZARI), 2018 national budget analysis breakfast meeting held in Lusaka yesterday.

He explained that because of the measures put in place by the government in 2017 this year with the introduction of E voucher, the allocation to the Farmer Input Support Programme had gone down to K1.8 billion in the 2018 budget from K2.9 billion last year.

He stated that in order to maintain the stability in the economy parliament was expected to pass four bills before the end of this year.

“Parliament will before the end of this year pass the public finance act and the budget and planning bill, the Zambia procurement act and the loans and guarantee act and all this is aimed at enhancing stability in the economy,” Mr. Mutati said.

He also said the acts would help in the acceleration of fiscal fitness as they would be acting with the protection of the law.

Meanwhile, ZIPAR executive director, Pamela Kabaso said the recent economic growth rates of 3 to 4 percent was not adequate to leave behind.

Dr.Kabaso said the 2018 budget had observed inclusive growth, adding that this was possible with steadfast and collective implementation of bold policy decision and reforms.

“We applaud Government for linking the 2018 budget to the Seventh National Development Plan and for continuing the implementation of the economic stabilisation and growth program in order to create a supportive environment for effective implementation of the 7NDP.

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