Expectations from various stakeholders are high ahead of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube’s 2020 National Budget presentation Thursday
The ZWL$28, 5 billion budget, coming at a time when the country has just de-dollarised seeks to address a number of challenges facing the economy.
Stakeholders who spoke to CITE on Wednesday said they expected Ncube to announce measures that would improve the performance of the economy and the livelihood of Zimbabweans.
“We expect the 2020 National Budget to create a conducive environment, which promotes productivity in agriculture and industry, hence it must deal with electricity challenges, water supply and foreign currency availability for export oriented sectors,” said Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Bulawayo chapter chairperson, Brighton Ncube.
He said the business community expected the Finance Minister to consider increasing the tax free threshold, reducing Value-Added-Tax by 10 percent, scrapping the two percent tax on electronic money transfers and commercialising command agriculture by involving banks to enable accountability.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Itai Rusike, said they expected Ncube to ensure the allocation of at least 15 percent of the National Budget to public health in line with the Abuja Declaration target.
“The budget should implement innovative and sustainable financing for health care delivery and financial protection for the poor by implementing the comprehensive national health financing strategy,” said Rusike.
“It should strengthen the national referral, district and community institutions. The district and community health systems are the foundation of the primary health care system. The budget should also enhance the availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of health services (including human resources and drugs) through decentralisation.”
He added that they also expected the budget to address the perennial strike actions of health workers by improving their conditions of services in line with the regional standards.
Priston Levison, a Bulawayo resident, said: “We are worried about the health and education sector. We expect to see money spent on these sectors. We can’t afford to see people dying in hospitals because there is no medication and at the same time if education sector goes down it might not be seen today but the fact is we are shooting ourselves in the foot because effects will haunt us later.”
Effie Ncube of the Consumer Rights Association said there was a need for the budget to address the needs of all Zimbabweans.
“The budget should be pro-poor people, pro-workers, pro-small businesses, and pro-consumers. It should focus on lowering the cost of living, on poverty eradication, on better salaries, on stabilisation of currency, on availability of fuel and electricity, on containment of inflation, on eradication of corruption and cartels, and on job creation,” he told CITE.
“As consumers we can’t accept government experimenting with the lives of the people. It is time to drop austerity.”