By Staff Reporter
Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats (LEAD) president Linda Masarira says her party is expecting positives from the 2020 National Budget that is going to be presented in Parliament this Thursday (14 November 2019) despite the misfiring of the previous ones.
Minister Mthuli Ncube’s budget comes at a time when Zimbabwe is going through one of its worst times economically which has seen prices of goods and services going up almost on a daily basis while salaries and wages have dismally failed to play catch.
In a statement, Masarira said she is keen to hear how the Minister will address issues of corruption, government expenditure among others which have affected the performance of previous budgets.
“As the nation awaits the 2020 budget presentation by Minister Mthuli Ncube with great expectations and hope for a better 2020 economic environment, we don’t forget that the previous budget pronouncements have failed to live up to expectations.
“We however hope and trust that the Zanu PF government has learnt from past misfiring and will this time present a people and economic friendly budget.
“In the past, the budgets that have been presented have failed to live up to the requirements of Public Finance Management (PFM) so as to address the basic and critical economic fundamentals,” she said.
According to Masarira, the budget speech should speak to all PFM processes highlighting the whole budget cycle, public procurement, audit practices and revenue collection.
The self-styled politician and women’s rights activist added then when Minister Mthuli took office he convinced the nation and government that the only way forward was to go through a period of strict austerity measures and that it is now time to reveal the benefits accrued.
“The most affected have been the civil servants whose salaries were completely wiped out. We also saw the removal of the dollarization and a disposition towards the introduction of Zimbabwean currency.
“We hope the Minister has not forgotten his promises and as such, we hope in this budget he is going to tell the nation what has been achieved so far.
“If the public has been forced to bear the brunt of the austerity measures which included a levy on all Ecocash/Telecash/One Wallet transactions, surely they expect to reap from their pain,” she said.
The following are areas which LEAD is hoping should be covered by the Mthuli 2020 budget:
- Fiscal reforms are the first area which we hope will be addressed by this budget. For a long time now the banking sector has not been functioning as it should be. The functions of the reserve bank should be put under scrutiny as a starting point to bring normalcy to the sector. The role of the reserve bank governor should be properly defined so it does not overshadow and usurp the functions of the Ministry of Finance. The issue of money trading in the streets should be arrested by this budget. Money should be available in the banks as and when the banker requires it.
- Corruption has topped as an impediment to the proper operations of government. What is of our concern in this budget is that the Minister should tell the nation how he plans to deal with corruption particularly to do with revenue collection and government expenditure. We want to hear what his ministry is going to do to curb high-level corruption in the various government functions. This should include how he intends to oversight the operations of government department such as ZESA, ZINWA, NSSA, ZIMDEF, ZERA, ZBC, ZIMRA, ZUPCO, EMA, Forestry commission, AIR Zimbabwe and ZINARA among others. We also want to hear the Mthuli budget to pronounce how government is going to recover also funds embezzled or stolen from the government through corruption.
- It is now a national reality that sanctions are here to stay and as such we as a country should just be able to work around them. Sanctions have the effect of frustrating western FDIs and our relationship with international finance institutions. We, therefore, hope to hear from the budget how the nation is going to work around sanctions and realise meaningful FDIs. We want to hear of national economic activities whose objectives are to cause economic growth and development despite the persistence of sanctions.
- It is also common knowledge that the reason for our poor credit rating is our inability to service both domestic and foreign debt. We, therefore, would like to hear how the minister proposes to service our debt.
- As a country, if we fail to compensate our workers properly we are likely to face problems such as corruption, poor performance and below-par government service delivery. With this in mind, we hope this budget is going to address the issue of salaries definitively. The Zimbabwean workers have been reduced to destitution and scavenging because of poor remuneration. We hope this budget is going to offer competent salaries for civil servants which in turn will influence private-sector salaries. It is simple economics that once the workers have disposable income consumption and subsequently production will increase. As salaries are increased we also hope this budget will address the plight of pensioners and other people needing welfare assistance. The budget should also reintroduce the government grants to those in tertiary institutions to make sure that all students who deserve tertiary education can access it.
- The Minister should also set aside a meaningful fund for public-works programs. We have a number of unemployed youth coming out of our education system. The government should come up with public-works programmes to keep these youths not only occupied but also make them productive. A special focus should on those coming out of colleges and universities so that they are able to give back to the country that raised them.
- There is need for sanity in the fuel sector. We want to hear how government plans to deals with issues such as monopolies and fuel shortages. We want tohear how government plansto resuscitate the Beira pipeline and open up new fuel supply routes.
- As with the fuel sector, we want to hear how the government plans to deal with the problem of electricity shortages. Issue of ethanol, biogas, and natural gas and solar should be pronounced in this budget.
- Water provision has become a problem in towns. This budget should pronounce how the government is going to invest in the provision of water inurban areas. Most of our dams can no longer cope with growing populations. The waterworks and piping system are no longerable toservice growing cities. We wantto hear this budget speakingto issues of increasingthe water-related infrastructure.
- Agriculture is a critical area for our economic growth and development. This budget should tell us how agriculture is going to be reformed, commercialised and mechanized so that it becomes efficient and productive. We need this budget to spell out how government farming institutions are going to be revived. How the former ranches and estates are going to be resuscitated. Investing in agriculture should also include investment in skills development at the individual farmer level and the level of extension work. We should also hear how the minister proposes to provide funding to key agricultural products such as beef, dairy, small stock, cereal production and agro-based industries.
- The revival of the industrial sectoris also key to economic recovery of this country. This calls for fiscal support to key players in industries. This also calls for subsidies from the government. It also calls for legislation to protect local producers against cheaper imports. In also calls for investment in value addition and import substitution. We need to hear this budget articulate issue to do with industrial revival and growth.
- Industrial growth involve the promotion of the informal sector of the economy. This Mthulian 2020 budget should provide funding and policy proposals for not only funding the informal sector but also for making sure it is legalised and adequately regulated so that it is able to feed directly into the economy.
- Taxation is a major component of government income. This budget should pronounce how government intends to strengthen and broaden the taxation system and revenue base. This budget should bring in the concept of redistributive justice in its taxation system. Taxation for the rich should be very high so as to fund government services.
- The mining sector is currently not raising income for the nation as it should. This budget should speak into the reforms of the mining sector including issues to do with speculative investment, disused mines, government mines, value addition, FDIs in the mining sector. We need investment in new technologies.
- Diaspora remittances should be planned for and properly articulated in this budget. This budget should spell out what government is going to do to come up with bilateral labour agreements with South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and the United Kingdom to help our people in these countries obtain legal documentation to secure work.
- This budget should pronouncehow imports and exports are going to function for the benefit of economic growth and development. The issue of cheap goods including flea market goods should be put under scrutiny. The import of second-hand Japanese vehicles should be regulated.
- Government expenditure is another area of concern. This budget should able to come up with ways to reduce government expenditure without compromising the functions of government.
- Infrastructure development is a key component of growth and development. This budget should show how issue to do with the development key infrastructure will be funded. This includes transport, agriculture, mining, housing, energy and other sectors.
- Funding in the education sector has in the past been for the provision of education. This budget should show a change of direction towards a technical bias. The budget should fund educational activities with a bias towards technical skills and the adoption of new technologies.
- Finally, funding should be made available for essential social services such as health and childcare.