All eyes on Mthuli’s budget

Source: All eyes on Mthuli’s budget | Newsday (News)

VENDORS, teachers and retailers are pinning their hopes on today’s budget presentation by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to address key issues affecting their constituencies that have been hard hit by the economic crisis.

BY MOSES MATENGA

The economic crisis, coupled with the COVID-19-induced lockdown, has severely affected vendors, teachers and retailers, among others.

Without government intervention, they said 2021 looked to be gloomier.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association president Denford Mutashu said Ncube’s budget should focus on poverty eradication and be pro-production.

“The minister should focus on poverty eradication, stimulate demand and come up with a budget that is pro-production,” he said.

“Import substitution balanced with a robust export strategy will save the country’s precious foreign currency, consolidate economic gains and reduce inflation towards a single digit figure.”

Mutashu said there was also expectation for scrapping of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s directive to businesses to pay value-added tax on rice backdated to 2017 “yet the then Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa made a directive to the contrary”.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “We expect a budget that resonates with the Dakar Declaration of allocating more than 22% of total budget to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary
Education.

“We, therefore, expect government investment in quality public education where teachers would be well paid, innovative and dynamic and contribute to a skills revolution in line with Agenda 2030. It is imperative to enhance government capacity to support teachers and create an enabling environment for effective learning and teaching in public schools.”

Teachers have not been attending classes for weeks after declaring incapacitation and demanding a salary increase.

“That budget must also resonate with Abuja Declaration of allocating 15% of total budget to the health sector and Maputo Declaration of allocating 10% of total budget to agriculture,” Zhou said.

Vendors said the minister’s budget should be guided by the fact that most of the economic projects were being driven by the informal sector.

“Our hope is that the minister in his statement tomorrow (today) will be guided by such statistics, as it is very much a fact that most of the economy resides in the informal sector,” Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation executive director Samuel Wadzai said.

He said vendors had been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown, hence the need for “cushioning and restocking”.

“As local authorities reopen informal traders markets, it is our belief that the minister should allocate an amount that enables traders to restock, as most have exhausted business earnings over the shutdown period.

“The cushioning fund that was announced at the beginning of the lockdown is yet to be received by the intended recipients,” Wadzai said.

“The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates the exercising of hygienic practices, along with social distancing.

“Currently, most trading places throughout the country have facilities that are woefully inadequate for these times. Provision of running water is vitally important along with paved market stalls if the disease is to be contained.”

He said vendors were also anticipating an import substitution fund, review of the tax regime and capacitation at a time there is greater need to observe COVID-19 regulations.

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