By STEVEN ZANDE -
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has called for concerted efforts in reducing rural poverty and high levels of inequality in the country.
Mr Lungu said yesterday although the Government had intensified countywide infrastructure development, more still needed to be achieved to address rural poverty which, according to 2015 statistics, stood at 76.6 per cent and unemployment at 7.4 per cent.
“According to international labour standards this is a big problem. A lot of people are trapped in poverty and inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor remains high,” said Mr Lungu as he launched of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) 2017-2021 under the theme ‘Accelerating Development Efforts Towards Vision 2030 Without Leaving Anyone Behind’.
“Together we can do it. Together we will prosper. Let us all strive to give our children and our great-grandchildren the quality of life they deserve,” the President said.
Mr Lungu said he was concerned that 89.3 per cent of the workforce in Zambia was in the informal sector, which recorded low productivity with low incomes that could not earn the people decent wages to afford basic needs.
He said in spite of the existing challenges, the Government was keen to build a resilient and diversified economy where value-addition and knowledge-based activities were entrenched in line with the principles of a Smart Zambia.
Mr Lungu expressed confidence that the 7NDP which would be tied to the National Budget and the home-grown economic recovery programme’ Zambia-Plus’ would lead to inclusive economic growth which benefited everyone.
The President said the Government was strengthening synergies among various sectors of the economy to foster linkages which would help accelerate implementation of the set programmes.
Mr Lungu said success of the document would depend on implementation of the set objectives, stating that the Government had streamlined the budget and enacted other reforms to ensure cohesion of efforts.
The Head of State said the 7NDP’s focus on economic diversification underscored the Government’s determination to diversify the economy and reduce poverty and inequality.
Mr Lungu said there was a need for a collective mindset change towards work and participation in national affairs which required urgent transformation.
The President appealed to Zambians from all walks of life to contribute towards the successful implementation of the plan.
Mr Lungu said the 7NDP said plan would also help enhance good governance and contribute to human development.
National Development Planning Minister Lucky Mulusa said the document, based on an inclusive formulation, was expected to result in economic growth, job creation and improved living standards among Zambians.
He said with its emphasis on economic diversification, the 7NDP would also help Zambia realise national development which increased economic opportunities for the people.
World Bank Country Manager Ina Ruthernberg said partnership between Government and cooperating partners was vital for Zambia to attain its development goals that were aimed at addressing equitable job and wealth creation for the population.
Ms Ruthenberg said WB stood ready to help Zambia achieve a resilient economy, which was in line with attainment of the Vision 2030.
Deputy Secretary to Cabinet Peter Kasanda in a vote of thanks said the civil service would work with other Government departments to help actualise development goals outlined in the 7NDP.