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Economic slowdown will worsen poverty levels – CTPD

THE Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) says it has observed that Zambia’s slowed economic growth is affecting a large number of people living under the poverty datum line.

CTPD Programmes Coordinator, Natalie Kaunda said that the organisation was concerned that the threat of extreme poverty for some sectors of the population was still looming as the economy continued to deteriorate in its performance.

Ms Kaunda said the cost of living as measured by the Jesuits Centre for Theological Reflections Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket for the month of January 2020 had increased to K7, 410.96 for a family of five compared to K5, 395.35 in January 2019. 

In a statement, Ms Kaunda said that the increase in the cost of living created a very difficult environment, especially for children in need of balanced and nutritious foods.

“The sting in the economy is felt more by the already vulnerable (the poor), who need support in these harsh times,” she said.

Ms Kaunda said that there was need for Government to seriously consider boosting initiatives such as the social cash transfer scheme by realigning the national budget allocation, to channel more resources towards social protection.

She said that Government should take seriously the recommendations that CTPD had been advancing on debt restructuring and that there was urgent need to renegotiate Zambia’s debt in light of the unforeseen challenges confronting the country.

“We also urge the Zambian government to seek relief on debt interest repayment as this will free up the much needed resources required for the country to effectively respond to the COVID- 19 pandemic,” she said.

Ms Kaunda said that as CTPD they had observed that prices had continued to go up and jobs were being cut in many sectors among which included the extractives sector due to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19, a global pandemic that has literally put the world economy on standstill.

“This has resulted to Zambia’s economic growth target which was estimated at 2% for the year 2020 not attainable, a situation that may negatively impact on the 2020 national budget,” she said.

Ms Kaunda said that the Centre appealed to Government to consider developing local stimulus packages that could help cushion sectors that would be affected the most with the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said this was critical in ensuring that liquidity was sufficient for the affected

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