HARARE – Events surrounding the exit of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe have delayed the National Budget presentation which was scheduled for yesterday, November 23, 2017.
According to legal and parliamentary watchdog, Veritas, the fast-moving events of the past week caused a change of plan after Parliament failed to sit on November 23.
“The Budget will now be presented on a later date to be announced, but expected to be before the Zanu PF party congress, which is still, it seems, scheduled for December 12 to 17,” Veritas said.
“Parliament will meet again on November 28, and again the Budget presentation does not feature on the Order Paper for that week.”
The delay in the presentation of the Budget does not present a constitutional problem. Under section 305(2) of the Constitution the deadline for the presentation of the Budget is January 30, 2018.
Bulawayo South legislator Eddie Cross urged the new regime to quickly deal with the tough issues that are negatively affecting the country.
“First of these is the national Budget which was supposed to be presented to Parliament on Thursday November 23. The country will run a huge fiscal deficit this year after the $1,4 billion deficit in 2016.
“The economy is shrinking, and inflation is suddenly accelerating. The budget is the only policy instrument available to the government and whatever was planned by the minister of Finance will have to be reviewed and changes made.
“We have until the end of January to get this done — but there is a lot to do and this will take some time,” Cross said.
Traditionally, the minister of Finance announces the budget in November, although in the past few years, it has been presented in December.
According to the 2018 pre-budget strategy paper, the 2018 National Budget, should focus on restoring fiscal sustainability and discipline through institution of expenditure reduction measures as directed by Cabinet imploring submissions from ministries and departments to contain sectoral specific proposals on cutting budget expenditure costs.
Currently, business activity is being threatened by wide spread market indiscipline, exacerbated by corrupt practices and tendencies across both public and private sectors.
Industry expects the budget to foster responsible and productive expenditure, reduce the budget deficit and adopt a cash budgeting framework.
Employment costs are also expected to be reduced as currently the costs have become unsustainable for business.
Expenditure for 2018 is projected at $4,68 billion. Of that, employments costs are projected at $3,2 billion, representing 80 percent of total anticipated revenues.
Critical will be the containment of unproductive recurrent expenditures, central of which remains the Wage Bill.
The new government is also expected to reform tax laws and regulations to promote investment.
In the agriculture sector, the unions are calling for an agricultural credit policy that take into account the objectives of the three inter-linked policy areas, which are macro-economic, agricultural sector and financial sector policy.