Zim needs budgetary support, says Biti

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HARARE – Zimbabwe desperately needs external budgetary support to help revive its economy, former Finance minister Tendai Biti says.

He said the greatest challenge in formulating the country’s 2014 budget will be limited resources.

“…the task is always that of managing a tiny envelope in an ocean of high demand and huge expectations,” Biti said.

He noted that dwindling national revenues will exacerbate pressure on the post-election budget to be presented later this month by newly appointed Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.

“With accrued arrears of over $300 million and other unbudgeted for expenditure such as the $150 million Zambia maize loan scheme and the recent debt accrued in respect of the $160 million government agriculture input scheme, it is Armageddon,” Biti added.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) recently announced that it missed revenue collection targets in the third quarter, collecting $897,3 million from an expected $904,9 million.

Biti — who is the opposition Movement for Democratic C hange shadow Finance minister — said it was imperative for government to secure financial support.

“The assumption that China or South Asia will provide resources is one that will be tested and its naivety proven. It is therefore easily foreseeable that the Zimbabwean dollar has to be brought back to allow monetisation of the humongous obligations and election promises made,” he said.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s economic troubles continue to be worsened by operational constraints such as power cuts, expensive capital, low capacity utilisation and investor apprehension owing to an uncertain regulatory framework.

Economist John Robertson said the country’s growth prospects are very weak due to government’s failure to enunciate policies that attract foreign investment and create a conducive environment for business.

“I do not foresee our economy growing by more than three percent. We need to address the policy discord obtaining in our economy and come up with austerity measures that can boost economic growth,” he said.

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