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What consumers expect from the Budget

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Finance minister Tendai Biti is expected to present the 2012 National Budget on Tuesday, amid high expectations from across all sectors of the economy.

The country’s economy is set to slow down to between 7,8% and 9% in 2012, compared to the projected growth rate of 9,3% for 2011.

According to the ministry’s 2012 Budget Strategy Paper, agriculture and mining are expected to drive the economy.

However, following the country’s clearance to sell its Marange diamonds, Biti will be under pressure to balance the needs of the country and those of consumers. Employees want the tax-free threshold increased to $500.

NewsDay took to the streets seeking people’s views and expectations. Below are excerpts:

Michael Nyamaropa said: “We are hoping the government will look at the tax-free threshold. It should be increased to $500 so that people can survive as currently we are earning $260 and after paying rentals, transport, water and electricity bills, we are left with nothing.”

David Pirikisi said more money should be allocated to roads and infrastructure in Zimbabwe as bad roads damaged vehicles.
“Civil servants should be allocated more money. And teachers’ status should be restored by increasing their wages so that they regain their dignity in the society,” he said.
Pirikisi said the issue of Zesa needs to be addressed urgently as many people did not know what the money they were paying was being used for.

Gerald Matiza said the cost of living was now very expensive in Zimbabwe so the Finance minister should address the issue of commodity prices.
“Talking of maize seed and fertiliser, it is available in the supermarkets but the prices being charged are too much for us,” said Matiza.

One woman who declined to be identified said she did not expect anything from the Budget, saying their input did seem like it mattered to policymakers.
“The Budget is like forcing a student to go to school. Children just go to school whether delivering or not, this is just a formality. Recently the breadbasket has increased, what’s next?” she asked.

Philip Chakabva said at least the government should allocate more money to health services and education and should try to put in place a policy that follows up on the money allocated to every ministry.
“The government should also allocate money for disabled people, education, health and many other areas,” said Chakabva.

Tracey Kuwora said through the Budget, the government had to address the issue of water.
“We stay in Kuwadzana and we hardly have water and now there is an outbreak of cholera while electricity is never available,” said Kuwora.
Kuwora said water was a necessity; we need water to be available. We have alternative sources, of electricity, but there are none for water.

Ndirwirei Chimari said: “We survive by selling soft drinks and we don’t even know what the Budget is all about. But what I can say is everyone is a worker and should be treated fairly. The money is not enough.”

A man who identified himself as Garaiza said the tax threshold should be increased and duty on all imported goods that are not being manufactured here should be scrapped.
“Also the meat sector needs to be given more assistance so that the country can stop importing meat from other countries,” said Garaiza. He added that the Zesa issue should be addressed by allowing more players in the energy sector.

One Mrs W Mukombami said the cost of living in Zimbabwe was now very expensive while the salaries were too low.
“We can’t afford to buy all our grocery requirements. Two litres of cooking oil costs between
$2,50 and $4, a green bar of laundry soap went up from between $1,50 and $1,70 to $2. This is too much for us,” said Mukombami.
She said prices should go down. Half of the country was not employed so there was no reason for prices to continue going up.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said she was looking forward to this year’s Budget and there were so many issues that should be addressed.
Siyachitema said the tax-free threshold should be between $350 to $500 so that buying power can be increased.

“It’s high time the issue of change was resolved. We have been talking about this issue for some time and now it’s 2012. We can’t carry on without change in the country, on the market and we need more access to plastic money so that we don’t carry cash all the time,” said Siyachitema.

She said agriculture and the manufacturing sector should be funded. She believes if these sectors are given money there will be increased production and goods will be made available on the market.

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