via Chinamasa ashamed of his $4bn budget – New Zimbabwe 29/11/2015
FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa says he was ashamed as Treasury chief to have stood before an expectant nation to present a slender national budget of only $4 billion.
He, however, insists he has invented the correct policy measures to revive an economy battered by years of mismanagement, massive flight of foreign capital and a Western imposed trade embargo.
“Since I came into the ministry, I have hardly been worrying about figures. A whole minister of Finance presenting a $4b budget! It does not make me proud,” Chinamasa told business executives at a post-2016 budget review seminar in Harare Friday.
In his budget statement, Chinamasa unveiled a raft of policy measures with a strong slant towards revitalising agriculture, once the mainstay of the country’s economy before the current Zanu PF led government tripped it down through a controversial land reform process after 2000.
This, Chinamasa said, was all that was required to revive the economy.
“I have been worrying more about those promises which can see our cake grow,” he said.
“The officials can worry about figures and so on and in fact most of my quarrels with officials are over the figures where they want to confine me, to tie my hands with respect to figures. They defend the little which is there. I want to see policies that create wealth.”
Chinamasa said he viewed the country’s US dollar denominated economy as both a curse and a blessing.
The use of foreign currency, he said, was a curse in that it denied the country a monetary instrument for growth while the silver lining was in that it remained attractive to investors who are spared the trouble of seeing their finances subjected to different exchange rates.
In comments probably directed at fellow Zanu PF cabinet ministers Patrick Zhuwao and Chris Mutsvangwa who have persistently shouted him down for his pro-West stance, Chinamasa criticised those who have shown resentment for particular investors.
“For us let’s look at investors as investors; don’t worry about where they are coming from. Don’t worry about the colour of their skin. The US dollar is a US dollar, period!” he said.
“Often sometimes you find that attitudes, say, to Indians, or to Chinese are derogatory. I told you how China is growing.
“So, it is someone who is in a very worse position laughing at someone who is galloping along on a horse. So we need to change our attitudes, we need to welcome foreign capital.”
Despite benefiting from cheap Asian imports, ordinary Zimbabweans have derided the products for their poor quality.
Meanwhile, business leaders who were part of Friday’s meeting largely endorsed Chinamasa’s 2016 budgetary interventions but demanded pledges
from the minister he was going all the way this time to fulfil his pledges.
Banc ABC group chief economist James Wadi warned of a plunge into further debt if Treasury misses its 2016 revenue targets at a time government expenditure was hardly shifting downwards.