Expectations high ahead of mid-term budget presentation

Expectations are high from the business community ahead of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube’s mid-term budget presentation in Parliament on Thursday.

The treasury chief’s ZWL$58, 6 billion 2020 national budget unveiled last November has since been eroded by inflation with the Zimbabwe dollar continuing to depreciate against other currencies.

The presentation also comes at a time when the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1064 positive cases and 20 deaths recorded to date.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice president responsible for Matabeleland, Golden Muoni, told CITE, the business community in the region expected the Finance minister to address the currency issue.

“The mid-term budget must address the issue of certainty around our currency,” he said.

“It is much easier to plan with a stable currency.”

Muoni applauded the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for coming up with the weekly foreign currency floating system, adding it should incorporate small business with lower bank balances.

He also said the budget review statement should provide support to the productive sector of the economy in order to boost growth.

Economist at the National University of Science and Technology’s Department of Banking and Investment Promotion, Stevenson Dlamini, said Ncube had a mammoth task ahead of him.

“The minister has a mammoth task tomorrow in terms of delivering his mid-term budget statement, said Dlamini.

“We are at a point where the major challenge that we expect to be addressed is obviously the issue of inflation as it has eroded the incomes of civil servants. That one is what everyone will be waiting to hear how he will address it. Clearly he has to cushion the civil servants to the level where they can effectively deliver their services as well.”

Dlamini said the citizenry was eagerly awaiting to hear how Ncube would address the public finance management challenges that have been seen in the procurement scandal of the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“When it comes to the financial sector, he has to be clear on the country’s stance pertaining to dollarisation,” said Dlamini.

“Are we redollarising? If so, what measures; what steps. The steps must be clear as to how the economy is going to move beyond partial or full dollarisation and how the government is going to sustain that.”

He said it was important for the Finance minister to address corruption and put in place a policy for cushioning the informal sector, adding there was a need for clarity on how agriculture and mining sectors were going to be supported to further drive economic growth.

A Bulawayo businessman who declined to be named said he wondered if Ncube’s mid-term budget interventions would make any difference.

“He should stop the loot, recover the loot, improve productivity, stabilise the currency, reward genuine hard workers, care for the elderly and vulnerable in health, food and education,” said the businessman.

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