FINANCE minister Tendai Biti has postponed pre-budget consultations due to the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference which ended in Harare yesterday, amid reports the process will now wind up this Friday.
Report by Business Reporter
There have been calls for more time to prepare for the budget.
Biti, in a statement published at the weekend, said the consultative process, which was expected to gather submissions into the fiscal plan, had been postponed as the inclusive government forges ahead with the new governance charter.
The conference is also expected to set the stage for the country’s referendum ahead of general elections which will bring to an end the compromise inclusive government formed in 2009.
“The Ministry of Finance would like to inform members of the public that the programme for the 2013 National Budget consultations has been changed,” reads the statement in part.
“The changes effected are in line with the All-Stakeholders’ Conference. Members of the public, business, labour, academia, and other civic and religious organisations wishing to contribute to the process are cordially invited to participate at these provincial consultative meetings.”
Biti could, however, not disclose whether the delays would postpone the budget presentation slated for November 15.
The delays could, however, result in a fast-tracked budget, amid calls by stakeholders that the national fiscal plan should be more inclusive.
Treasury, which recently revised downwards economic growth rates, is facing enormous pressure both from within and outside government to craft a budget that could stimulate economic growth.
Public servants are demanding a wage rise and an annual bonus at a time when revenues have reached a plateau due to the under-performance of diamond revenue. The country’s agriculture and manufacturing sector, once key economic drivers, are confronted by unavailability of funding, competition from cheap imports and high utilities charges.
The Finance ministry early this month launched pre-budget consultations to source input into what is likely to be the last budget under the coalition administration.