The Public Finance Unit's overall goal is to improve public policy for growth through policy analysis and research. It focusses on the analysis of public expenditure management, domestic and public external debt, and tax policy.
The unit’s core works planned for 2018 will include the following:
(a) Improving Tax Collection in Zambia: an empirical investigation of tax buoyancy: Taxes are the main source of government revenue in Zambia, accounting for about 80% of the total. However, tax revenue collections have been flat around 15-16% of GDP while expenditures have escalated, leading to large fiscal deficits. This study therefore seeks to understand the tax buoyancy to assess the rate at which total tax revenue and the main tax types (Company Income Tax, Pay As You Earn, Value Added Tax (VAT) and Customs and Excise Duties) grow in response to the growth in economic activity. It originated as a request from ZRA. It will be undertaken as a desk review based on ZRA data and key expert interviews with ZRA, MOF, ZDA, MCTI, and the private sector. It will support the Government’s efforts to improve tax revenue mobilisation and tax buoyancy. This work will be carried out in the first quarter of 2018 and will be accompanied by a policy brief.
(b) Analysis of the 2019 Budget Address: the Public Finance Unit will team up with other units to conduct a budget analysis of the 2019 Budget Speech. The full economic effects of the Minister of Finance’s proposals and their implications for the budget will be analysed. The analysis of the 2018 Budget will review the performance of the Budget for the whole year (2018) and present an outlook and possible implications of the budget policy measures for 2019. Specific sub-activities under this activity will include a writing retreat which will culminate into a summary report of selected issues from the budget. These will then be presented to stakeholders within a week after the Budget Speech. Further, the unit will make submissions to the Expanded Committee of the Committee of Estimates of the National Assembly. This work will be conducted during the fourth quarter of 2018.
(c) Developing Local Currency Securities Market (reheating from 2017 debt studies): the 2017-2019 Medium Term Debt Strategy prioritises the maximisation of concessional external borrowing, where available, and longer-dated domestic debt securities, it is clear that Government wants to reverse the “sins” of the recent past where external borrowing was largely non-concessional and lengthen the maturity structure and reduce the refinancing risk of domestic debt which has been dominated by Treasury Bills which have a maturity period of up to one year. The exposure to foreign exchange risk was evident in 2015 when, following a plunge in copper prices, the exchange rate depreciated resulting in a sharp rise in the external debt to GDP ratio. The strategy will focus on altering the structure of the debt portfolio, which in proportional terms currently stands at 45% domestic debt and 55% external debt, to achieve 60% domestic debt and 40% external debt during the implementation of the strategy. This policy brief, which will be a spin-off from the Debt Strategies and the Eurobonds papers, will therefore look at ways of ensuring the successful implementation of this strategy. The policy brief will be done in the second quarter of 2018.
Public Finance Research Team
- Shebo Nalishebo
- Florence Banda-Muleya
- Mbewe Kalikeka