Participants in Bulawayo and Mvurwi lambasted government for policy inconsistencies on the economy and the confusion this was causing to citizens and investors. They said this during public consultations on the 2017 National Budget being conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development across the country. This follows the sudden u-turn by government on austerity measures announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Patrick Chinamasa, in Parliament last week.
Some participants felt that the budget process has become meaningless in a situation whereby 97 % of state revenues were channelled towards the civil servants wage bill, leaving almost nothing for capital projects. In order to contain expenditure, participants called for austerity measures such as merging some ministries to reduce the size of Cabinet, suspension of foreign travels by Ministers and government officials, weeding out ghost workers instead of retrenching productive workers, among other policy measures. Another suggestion was that government should just admit that Zimbabwe was heavily indebted and thus adopt the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) route to get itself out of the current economic quagmire.
Government was edged to establish means of making businesses in the informal sector to contribute to the national fiscus through taxes given that now the economy has been informalised. To that end, a suggestion was made that government should make use of local authorities to collect taxes from the informal sector given that the local authorities were already collecting some revenue from informal businesses.
Regarding corruption, some participants urged government to channel more resources to strengthening organizations such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Auditor General’s Office. Government was also urged to take action on the findings and recommendations of the Auditor General regarding the rampant abuse of public resources by government officials.
Government was also lambasted for paying lip service towards value addition. Participants argued that value addition was one effective strategy that would certainly help to revive the moribund industrial sector and thus create employment and boost inflows into government coffers. Government was also challenged to repeal colonial by-laws that tended to affect small scale businesses to take off the ground. Government was also urged to provide technical and financial support for rural-based entrepreneurial activities to boost the economic base as well as creating employment opportunities in rural areas.
Participants roundly condemned the introduction of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 as they argued that it was impacting negatively on revenue collection by ZIMRA and should, therefore, be done away with. Some participants observed that Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 was in violation of the SADC Protocol on Trade.
Participants in Bulawayo also highlighted major capital projects in the region that required funding from the fiscus such as the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and the Gwayi Shangani Dam. The implementation of the devolution of power also came under the spotlight as participants urged government to implement this policy without further delay and in particular the allocation of 5% of the national budget to local authorities as required by the Constitution.
The Committee’s schedule for tomorrow is as follows;
|Friday 16/9/16||Team A|
|0900 hrs||Chinhoyi||Cooksie Hall|
|0900 hrs||Victoria Falls||Chinotimba Hall|