BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
LEGISLATORS yesterday threatened not to pass Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s $927 billion budget for 2022, describing it as a “useless recipe for disaster”.
Ncube presented his budget before Parliament last Thursday and lawmakers were particularly peeved by the US$50 duty on cellphones.
“The Ministry of Finance must not determine everything, we should meet regularly to review the budget and re-strategise everything,” Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira said, adding that at the pre-budget seminar held in Victoria Falls last month, MPs did not agree on the cellphone levy.
Senate deputy president Mike Nyambuya also proposed a review of the cellphone levy and called for government to promote e-learning.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (independent) urged MPs not to pass the budget, saying it was unrealistic.
Economist Gift Mugano told MPs that the US$50 tax levy on cellphones to be refunded by Zimra after 30 days of payment of duty was harsh and against the spirit of a digital economy.
Mugano predicted that inflation would rise in 2022 and create challenges for the economy.
“The Ministry of Finance is failing to read the economy. If you have a budget expenditure of $579 billion and 12 months down the line you have expenditure outplay of more than 60%, it is worrisome,” Mugano said, adding that there was a likelihood that expenditure would balloon to more than a trillion dollars in 2022.
“There is inconsistency in terms of the allocation of money and support towards macro-economic stability. The budget must provide at least 50% of the total foreign currency anticipated in 2022, that is, US$750 million from the anticipated US$1,5 billion towards the operations of the auction system,” he said.
He urged MPs to question the government’s continued funding of programmes such as Pfumvudza, adding that there was need for the budget to address exchange rate volatility and put in place measures to stabilise it.
He said the provision to pay civil servants bonuses in United States dollars was inconsistent with the local currency budget, adding that Parliament should question why the country spent US$100 million on maize imports in 2021, notwithstanding the bumper harvest.