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Consumption pattern slows

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The countrys consumption pattern slowed down during the first quarter on the back of rising inflation, official figures have shown.

According to the Accountant-Generals Consolidated Statement of Financial Statement for the first quarter of 2012, value added tax, the governments main source of revenue, cumulatively stood at $242,7 million by end of March missing a budgetary projection of $249,5 million despite an aggregate growth in taxes on goods and services driven by excise duties.

The Consumer Price Index rose to 4,03% year-on-year.

Revenue from customs duties also missed Budget targets by nearly $3 million after closing the quarter at $87,8 million.

Excise duty, which is derived from tobacco and imported alcoholic beverages outperformed the Budget by $18,8 million during the period under review.

The governments property investment missed Budget targets by $93,7 million after cumulatively reaching $31,5 million, a situation that could have been triggered by a sector wide high default rate by tenants and below market rentals.

Cumulatively, total income raised by the government during the first three months of the year stood at $771,1 million, $98,5 million shy of Budget projections.

Finance minister Tendai Biti attributed this development to the non-performance of diamond revenue.

There are various downward risks to the economy during the second quarter and into the last half of the year, Biti said in his monthly economic review last week.

These include failure to realise our Budget revenue targets and reduced demand for our export commodities, with a negative bearing on overall gross domestic product growth.

Turning to expenditure, Treasury kept employment costs within the Budget after the figures showed a positive $10 million variance of the $404,8 million that was budgeted for.

The financial statement also highlighted that there was minimum commitment on capital expenditure during the period under review as shown by the $41 million variance despite an urgent need to invest in infrastructure.

Overally, the government had $264 million deficit as revenues continued to trickle into the State coffers.

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