Bud­get with a dif­fer­ence:

. . . Prof Mthuli walks the tightrope

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Africa Moyo Se­nior Busi­ness Re­porter

FI­NANCE and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Mthuli Ncube, who lit­er­ally car­ries the weight of cit­i­zens’ ex­pec­ta­tions when he presents the 2019 Na­tional Bud­get state­ment this Thurs­day, says the bud­get will strengthen ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion in the min­ing sec­tor and boost fund­ing for agri­cul­ture.

Fur­ther, the bud­get is also ex­pected to speak to the re­tool­ing of in­dus­try to boost out­put at com­pet­i­tive costs while cre­at­ing more jobs for the coun­try’s cit­i­zenry.

The min­is­ter also said the 2019 bud­get will seek to ca­pac­i­tate small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) and youths, though in­creas­ing ac­cess to fi­nance.

Crit­i­cally, Prof Ncube told The Sun­day Mail Busi­ness last week that con­trib­u­tors dur­ing na­tion­wide bud­get con­sul­ta­tions pro­posed a de­vi­a­tion from pre­vi­ous state­ments that sought to merely al­lo­cate funds without fol­low­ing up on their use and im­pact in so­ci­ety.

“So much came out of the bud­get con­sul­ta­tions. Of course, the var­i­ous min­istries are al­ways ask­ing for more money; that is un­der­stand­able, that is what they should do,” said Prof Ncube.

“But of course, it is im­por­tant that ev­ery dol­lar that is spent is fol­lowed through in terms of im­pact. It is one thing to re­quest for money, which is re­ally the in­put, but it is quite an­other to re­ally fol­low the im­pact of that in terms of de­vel­op­ment.

“So this came out strongly to say, go­ing for­ward, this is some­thing that we should look out for. Quite clearly, we want to strengthen the fi­nanc­ing for agri­cul­ture, we want to strengthen the ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion process in the min­ing sec­tor.”

With the na­tional drive now to­wards achiev­ing ‘Vi­sion 2030’, which seeks to cre­ate an up­per mid­dle in­come econ­omy, es­tab­lish­ing de­cent jobs for cit­i­zens has be­come top pri­or­ity for Gov­ern­ment.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa has in­di­cated that he wants or­di­nary cit­i­zens to earn an av­er­age of $3 500 per year by 2030.

To achieve the tar­get, Gov­ern­ment wants to sup­port the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor through the law and fund­ing where pos­si­ble, to en­sure they ramp up pro­duc­tion.

Said Prof Ncube: “We want to in­crease our fa­cil­i­ties for re­tool­ing in in­dus­try to en­sure that in­dus­try can be com­pet­i­tive. We also want to make sure that we im­prove ac­cess to fi­nance for the SME sec­tor and strengthen the Em­pow­erBank’s ca­pac­ity.

“A lot of things came out of the bud­get con­sul­ta­tions and I think this bud­get will go a long way in con­tribut­ing to­wards strength­en­ing the econ­omy by deal­ing with those is­sues that MPs and Sen­a­tors raised.”

Prof Ncube said with the right vi­sion, the coun­try can be moved to the “next level, which is an up­per mid­dle in­come by 2030”.

Last year, former Fi­nance Min­is­ter Patrick Chi­na­masa pre­sented a $5,1 bil­lion bud­get and in­di­ca­tions are that not much will change given the cost cut­ting mea­sures be­ing im­ple­mented.

Govt keen on achiev­ing Vi­sion 2030

Prof Ncube said ev­ery­one in Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to achiev­ing the vi­sion. Al­ready, Gov­ern­ment has un­veiled the Tran­si­tional Sta­bil­i­sa­tion Pro­gramme (TSP), which seeks to un­pack Vi­sion 2030 and pro­vide an im­ple­men­ta­tion plan.

Prof Ncube said re­forms in the TSP, which tar­get cut­ting Gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture and re­form­ing paras­tatals, among oth­ers, have been well ac­cepted both lo­cally and glob­ally.

In­ter­na­tional fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions such as the World Bank, In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF), the African De­vel­op­ment Bank (AfDB) and the Paris Club, are un­der­stood to have been im­pressed by the TSP, es­pe­cially on as­pects to do with Gov­ern­ment ex­pen­di­ture, paras­tatal re­forms and debt clear­ance.

In terms of paras­tatal re­forms, Gov­ern­ment an­nounced last week that it has tar­geted 41 en­ti­ties for pri­vati­sa­tion, de­part­men­tal­i­sa­tion and list­ing on the Zim­babwe Stock Ex­change.

Other firms will be com­mer­cialised and merged while four will be ‘buried’.

Thir­teen firms will be pri­va­tised while 12 are set for ZSE list­ing.

Firms lined-up for pri­vati­sa­tion in­clude the In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Bank of Zim­babwe (IDBZ), Zupco, Agrib­ank and some sub­sidiaries of the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC). Petro­trade, Wil­low­vale Mo­tor In­dus­tries, Chemplex Cor­po­ra­tion and Deven En­gi­neer­ing are set for ZSE list­ing.

Thir­teen firms, in­clud­ing the Postal and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of Zim­babwe (Po­traz), the Broad­cast­ing Author­ity of Zim­babwe (BAZ), Pow­er­tel, ZAR­Net, Africom and the Box­ing and Wrestling Boards are ear­marked for merg­ers.

The Com­pe­ti­tion and Tar­iff Com­mis­sion (CTC) is set to merge with the Na­tional Com­pet­i­tive­ness Com­mis­sion (NCC), while the Zim­babwe In­vest­ment Author­ity (ZIA), Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones Author­ity (SEZA) and the Joint Ven­tures Unit (JVU) will also be bun­dled to­gether.

ZimTrade, the coun­try’s pre­mier trade pro­mo­tion body, which was ex­pected to be merged with ZIA, JVU and SEZA, has sur­vived due to changed cir­cum­stances.

Gov­ern­ment also said the Na­tional Glass In­dus­tries, Zim­glass, Kingstons Lim­ited and trac­tor firm, Motira, will be guil­lotined.

New Ziana, the Na­tional Indi­geni­sa­tion and Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Board (NIEEB), Board of Cen­sors and the Lot­ter­ies and Gam­ing Board will all be adopted by their re­spec­tive line min­istries.

Seven­teen sub­sidiaries of the Zim­babwe Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (ZMDC), the Grain Mar­ket­ing Board (GMB) and the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity of Zim­babwe (CAAZ) will be un­bun­dled to sep­a­rate their reg­u­la­tory and com­mer­cial func­tions.

Gov­ern­ment wants to re­struc­ture paras­tatals to curb fur­ther losses as the bulk of them lack se­ri­ous lead­er­ship.

Pro­fes­sor Mthuli Ncube

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