2018 budget offers a gleam of hope

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa today presented the 2018 national budget which if implemented offers various positive changes aimed at boosting the economy through cost-cutting measures and the doing away of policies that had been draining funds whilst at the same time reigniting investor confidence.
Presenting next year’s budget in Parliament today Hon Chinamasa introduced new measures to curb financial expenditures some of which have been long much awaited for years.
Hon Chinamasa reiterated on the President’s view that Government’s economic policy will be predicated on creating conditions for an increased production led economic recovery, targeting attracting Foreign Direct Investment, as a way of tackling the prevailing high levels of unemployment.
Among the positive proposed measures in today’s budget include efforts to diversify the economy away from over-reliance on commodity exports in the medium to long-term , this comes at a time when local industries have closed down and the much needed and limited foreign currency continues to be siphoned out of the country.
A popular change in next the 2018 budget has also been the decision to do away with duplication of functions. Government is also abolishing 3739 youth officers posts.
Issuance of personal vehicles has been cut down to avoid unnecessary expenses with Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners being issued one vehicle whilst Principal Directors, Directors, and Deputy Directors and their equivalents will acquire vehicles through a vehicle loan scheme.
Zimbabwe delegations to regional and international fora  have been seen to be among the largest from the region, as such travel costs have been limited and Business class travel will, with immediate effect, be restricted to Ministers ;  Heads of Ministries and equivalent grades; Parastatals’ Chief Executive Officers; Local Authorities’ Mayors, Town Clerks, Chief Executive Officers and Constitutional Commissioners.
Government beginning 2018 is set to put a stop to unabated flow of Budget resources to Public Enterprises and Local Authorities 49 without any returns, either through dividends or meaningful public service delivery.
Vendors will be reorganized to proper vending sites.
A provision of US$176 million has been set aside for the payment of the 2017 13th Cheque awards.
US$132.2 million has been set aside in support of the 2018 Harmonised Elections budget.
However, not all proposals in the budget have been met with much anticipation as some issues were left unresolved.
Although calls have been made to pause borrowing and focus on dissolving the current national debt, Government is pursuing the re-engagement process with international financial institutions, in particular, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and the European Investment Bank and support from development partners to access to external borrowings.
The government has taken measures to reduce the wage bill by freezing of vacant posts in the public service.
Ironically while our Government led by a 75-year-old President, consists of people aged an average 60 years the budget speaks on retiring civil servants aged above 65 years of age.
“A number of public officials continue to be engaged in the public service well beyond their retirement age. In this regard, from January 2018 Government will, through the Service Commissions, retire staff above the age of 65”, said Chinamasa.
The proposed addition of two more years to primary level have been met with resistance as many feel it is not feasible for students to finish their high school education in their twenties.
Government is bent on tackling corruption and seeks to install a toll-free line for tip-offs which will complement lifestyle audits and auditor general reports.
Hon Chinamasa has delivered a pro-business budget that tackles long overdue issues if fully implemented has the capacity to bring about an economic upward trajectory.

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