by VENERANDA LANGA
PARLIAMENT will today begin its 2020 pre-budget consultations involving MPs, the Executive and different stakeholders in Victoria Falls where they will deliberate on the budget policy strategies that can turn around Zimbabwe’s economy.
In his 2020 budget strategy paper, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube indicated that the budget, which is expected to be announced on November 14, will transition from the austerity policy, to policies that will support productivity, as well as enhance the ease of doing business reforms and promotion of private sector-led growth.
Ncube’s strategy for the 2020 budget also includes youth empowerment so that they can also contribute to economic development and productive sectors.
The Finance ministry’s 2020 budget strategy paper recognises that there is need to modernise the country’s dilapidated infrastructure in order to reduce the costs of doing business.
“Quality social delivery hinges on the availability of appropriate and modern social infrastructure, and in this regard the country’s social infrastructure has become dilapidated due to limited investments over the years,” Ncube said.
“The 2020 national budget should, therefore, prioritise the upgrading, expand and modernise social infrastructure including information communication technology infrastructure as the country moves towards a digital economy.
“Sound road infrastructure is important for reducing the local cost of doing business, hence the need to continue with the current momentum to rehabilitate our road network across the country including feeder roads critical (in linking) the rural community to markets and essential services.”
However, Ncube faces a mammoth task to promote ease of doing business as the country is facing power outages, apart from dilapidated road and other infrastructure.
“The country is resorting to load shedding of up to 18 hours in worst cases. This translates to immense losses in terms of production, exports and revenues. Where companies have resorted to (using) alternative power sources, such as fuel-powered generators, this has escalated production costs,” his strategy paper said.
He said gestation of new power projects is expected in the medium term and, therefore, in the short term the country can only rely on imports of electricity, an issue which also requires foreign currency.
In his statement after the meeting of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe monetary policy committee (MPC) on Tuesday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya also emphasised on productivity, saying strong currencies throughout the world were supported by production and confidence.
During the Victoria Falls pre-budget meeting, chairpersons of different parliamentary portfolio and thematic committees are expected to present reports on budget expectations for the different line ministries. Thereafter, ministers will give responses to the proposals.