Stop Public Revenue Leaks to Address Cost of Living: Jesuit Scholars Tell Zambia

Creit: Courtesy Photo

Officials of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) are calling on the Zambian government to address the challenge of public revenue leaks in the Southern African nation to bring down the cost of living.

In their Tuesday, November 15 Basic Needs and Nutrition Basket (BNNB) statement, JCTR officials say that while the government has introduced measures such as the Pay As You-Earn tax free threshold in 2023, and is facilitating bilateral engagements with fertilizer and fuel producing nations in view of accessing the commodities cheaply, "public resources that are desperately required (in the midst of fiscal deficits) to expedite this process are being significantly lost."

"These irregularities are therefore providing obstacles to the development of our nation,” the Jesuit scholars say.

They add, “By reducing these potential revenue losses, more vulnerable households can be cushioned from the high cost of living through increased social sector spending and increased resources aimed at diversifying the economy."

Officials of the Lusaka-based Jesuit entity further say that the Zambian government also needs to ensure "utmost transparency in public procurement systems to limit revenue losses.”


Citing the Auditor General’s 2021 Report, the Jesuit scholars say that there was US$10.3 million in unjustified overpayments in the Lusaka City Decongestion Project.

They add that the report shows about K85.75 billion (US$5.4 billion) in taxes were owed to Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). 

In the statement obtained by ACI Africa, the Jesuit scholars also call upon the ZRA to scale up monitoring and awareness interventions to limit tax evasion and to enhance tax efficiency and compliance, adding, “This is important for the reduction of the tax arrears.”

The Jesuit scholars also call for the Auditor General’s Report to be taken seriously and not be treated "like an academic undertaking."

Parties found to be at fault in the Auditor General’s Report "must be investigated and brought to book as prescribed by the law", they say. 

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In the BNNB statement outlining the cost of living for October 2022, officials of the entity that is engaged in research, advocacy, education, and consultancy on social issues say that there is a reduction in the cost of living. 

They attribute the decrease to the reduced prices of some types of food, charcoal and the relatively stable exchange rate in October.

"It is important to note that seasonality remains a factor in influencing movement of both the food and non-food sections of the basket and, in turn, the cost of living," the Jesuit scholars say, and explain that decreased charcoal price could be attributed to lower energy demand as a result of a hot season.

In their November 15 statement, the JCTR leadership however expresses concern about the use of biomass in the Southern Africa nation.

"Demand for biomass still remains high in the nation due to most households’ limited access to the grid. This demand poses a negative impact on the environment, reversing mitigation and adaptation efforts," they say.


The Jesuit scholars urge the Zambian government to invest in alternative sustainable energy sources to limit dependence on biomass.

This story was first published by ACI Africa on 21 November 2022.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.