Parly approves Budget | The Herald 20 December 2014 by Wenceslaus Murape
Parliament has passed the 2015 policy-driven National Budget following a week-long debate in both the National Assembly and Senate.
The Lower House debated the Bill since Tuesday before passing it on Thursday, while the Upper House went through the whole process yesterday.
The Budget seeks to create an enabling environment that will promote meaningful partnerships between Government, the private sector and international investors.
During debate on the Appropriation Bill that sets Expenditure Estimates, most legislators complained that the money allocated to the ministries was inadequate and would derail efforts to turnaround the economy.
But Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa reiterated that the major emphasis was to grow the economy to ensure adequate allocations to various ministries and Government departments.
“Right across the board there is underfunding and the 2015 Budget is mainly policy implementation with the challenge being to grow the cake,” Minister Chinamasa said during debate on Wednesday.
Some of the policy issues announced in the Budget include increased focus on confidence-building, retention of the multi-currency system, increased taxes on unprocessed diamonds, platinum, ban on exports of unrefined gold, formalisation of artisanal mining and clarification on the implementation of the indigenisation policy so that it becomes sector specific and reduce misconceptions about the programme.
The Budget also seeks to recapitalise the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the tune of between US$150 million and US$200 million using a loan guaranteed by the Afreximbank by March 2015 as a way of restoring confidence in the financial markets.
At least US$100 million will also be mobilised to restart the interbank market while US$20 million will be sought to demonitise Zimbabwe dollar bank balances.
The majority of Senators acknowledged the economic hardships that the country is facing, saying it was the reason ministries across the board were inadequately funded.
MDC-T senator for Manicaland Mr Patrick Chitaka said while they sympathised with Minister Chinamasa for walking on a tight-rope, they least expected him to reduce Parliament’s Budget to US$19 million from last year’s allocation of US$35 million.
Chief Charumbira and Chief Musarurwa said it was uncalled for to have traditional leaders go through the embarrassment of using public transport. Chief Chiduku decried that traditional leaders had not received a salary increment in the last four years.
Zanu-PF Senator Alice Chimbudzi (Mashonaland Central) and MDC-T’s Sithembile Mlotshwa urged Treasury to allocate more resources to the Ministry of Defence and that of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Chief Chisunga urged Government to lay off some workers from the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, arguing that some of them were redundant and under qualified.
He said this would result in the reduction of the wage bill.