REVELATIONS that the country’s debt has ballooned to over $13 billion are quite shocking, and demonstrate the spendthrift nature of President Robert Mugabe’s government, whose priorities show a lack of concern over the country’s economic development.
It is understandable that the Parliament Budget Office (PBO) has expressed concern over this debt as it exposes gross fiscal indiscipline and the government’s inability to live within its means.
The need for checks and balances in government, particularly the manner in which it has been using – or abusing funds – has never been more critical than at this time. Perhaps what makes this more significant is the fact that the budget overruns most likely have nothing to do with development as most of the country’s key infrastructure such as hospitals has been long neglected.
Neither has the expenditure anything to do with investment in key economic areas and, more poignantly, is a violation of the provisions of the Debt Management Act, which stipulates that the government debt should not exceed 70% of gross domestic product (GDP). But the debt is now estimated at 79% against the country’s GDP, which was pegged at $16,3 billion at the end of last year.
As the PBO noted, the domestic debt also increased in the second quarter due to, among other things, financing government expenditure. Little has been done to ensure the revival of the economy and ring-fence the country’s coffers.
Government needs to do some serious soul-searching and relook the manner in which they have been handling their finances because if immediate interventions are not put in place, the country can implode.
It is tragic that the government prefers to bury its head in the sand like an ostrich if they are told some home truths. By the time former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was transferred to another ministry, he had implored his principals to curb their expenditure and relook the way they handled the country’s resources, and that most likely didn’t go down well with the powers-that-be, paving way for his reshuffling to another ministry.
But it’s important for the government to seriously consider this matter and do the right thing.