WHEREAS budget statements are meant to confirm and take forward the nation’s commitment to prioritise and protect expenditures that can substantially contribute to economic growth, job creation, and overall poverty reduction, to also contain measures to
improve service delivery and strengthen public expenditure management, the hopelessness of Zimbabwe’s entire budget exercise and process, in this environment, is again exemplified by the Minister of Finance’s 2007 budget statement.
If the minister cannot predict the level of public expenditure next month, how then does he intend to predict a whole year, expenditure pattern? Bids by the ministries make no sense whatsoever, with or without Gideon Gono’s quasi-fiscal expenditure forays.
So no matter what the Minister of Finance pronounces within the framework of the 2007 budget, by omission or commission, his action will lead to more misery and further unprecedented economic decline. This will be the ninth successive decline in GDP since 1998.
Is this what the minister’s budget is about, or he is just taking the people of Zimbabwe for a ride? If we judge by the way the economy will go, the minister should concede that his budget is not a good omen.
He should retract and address the country’s fundamentals — stop corruption, restore the rule of law and confidence of the investor in the economy — before presenting what the official press will obviously call a bold budget statement.
The only hint at reducing inflation worth noting was limiting Gono quasi-fiscal forays.
The nation is being told that this will bring inflation down to 350-400% by October 2007. But with all the economic fundamentals that brought about the high inflation in place, inflation is unlikely to come down.
The allocations and estimates given by the minister will continue to be eroded by inflationary pressures, mainly due to lack of production and continued growth of expenditure by this government’s bloated administration.
In the view of the MDC the fundamentals that require attention in order to halt the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy are:
* Government must stop denying the causes of the country’s economic problem and come to terms with itself and seek dialogue with the people of this country;
* Engage the people of Zimbabwe (the civil society, business, farmers, workers, churches) on fiscal policy, development of the economy and democratic rights of citizens;
* Move away from the position of sustained macroeconomic mismanagement and adopt sound macroeconomic policies aimed at curbing inflation and laying the foundation for economic recovery;
* Refrain from bad governance, asset-stripping, corruption and looting of state-owned enterprises and assets and engage the nation towards achieving the millennium development goals in order to reduce poverty; and
* Stop all forms of disruptions to normal economic activities and show commitment to transparency, accountability, respect for human rights and democratic processes.
Any budget speech that ignores this framework continues to be self-delusion and a joke for the people whose pain deepens especially immediately as a result of tinkering at the edges of a sick Zimbabwe economic body in national budget statements.
Deputy secretary general — MDC.