The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has commenced facilitating the drafting of proposals for the 2023 National Budget which is expected to be presented in the last quarter of 2022.
The Ministry of Finance and National Planning is yet to call for budget proposal submissions.
But JCTR said it has started preparing proposals with community members so that it makes timely submissions at the time the Ministry of Finance will call for submission.
JCTR is currently conducting a series of meetings in Ndola, Masaiti and Lufwanyama districts of the Copperbelt Province aimed at preparing children and community members for budget submissions for the year 2023.
According to JCTR, the significance of the budget submission meetings is seen in its ability to help children and community members influence the planning and implementation process of the 2023 National Budget by ensuring that their challenges are identified beforehand, codified into a proposal for onward submission to the Ministry of Finance as and when the call for submission is made to the public.
JCTR Programme Officer Martin Changwa Sikonda said the national budget should be reflective of the needs of the people.
“We have an activity that we are calling a budget submission meeting with children and community members from Twapia Ward of Ndola Central Constituency. JCTR in partnership with Save the Children have realised that there is a gap when it comes to community participation in the budget making process and so it becomes so difficult for children even community members to hold their leaders accountable if they don’t participate in the process. As JCTR we have an activity that allows children and other community members to participate in the process by first making budget proposals, the activity we are doing,” Mr. Sikonda said.
“When they make these proposals it will help government also to be reflective and the budget to be reflective of the needs of the people and also help children and community members to be able to hold these leaders to account because they would have known what they had submitted and they would have known what they expect to find in the national budget,” he said.
Mr. Sikonda added that children and other stakeholders should be given a chance to express themselves on governance matters such as national budget formulation.
“For JCTR we are targeting the age group of 14 to 18 years. We have realised that in most Zambian communities or even at national level children tend to be forgotten. We tend to think for our children. It is important for children to participate so that their needs are incorporated in the national budget and also in the development process at large. You will agree with me that if someone has not asked what you want it is very difficult to know what you really want and they can end up giving you things that you don’t even need. So it is important that children participate in making budget proposals so that in the end their needs can also be incorporated. I would just want to encourage parents but also urge the government to ensure that in everything that you are doing in all the developmental processes that are being carried out ensure that children participate. We should not take children as empty facets. They know what they want for themselves,” Mr. Sikonda said.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the budget meeting in Ndola, selected pupils aged between 14 and 16 said they were happy to be given a chance to make proposals for the 2023 National Budget.
“I thought making a national budget is for big people like Members of Parliament so I am happy to have this opportunity to participate in the budget making. Thank you to JCTR, we have learnt many things on the budget,” said 16-year old Carol Chomba, a grade 10 pupil at Mwabombeni School in Twapia Ward.
Source – Lusakatimes.com