Chinamasa makes sweeping changes

FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has introduced a raft of cost-cutting measures, among them a drastic reduction in government travel, other luxuries and fired over 3 000 national youth service graduates. Government will also retire bureaucrats over the age of 65.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Chinamasa said this while announcing the $5,8 billion 2018 National Budget, insisting he would continue to ensure that there is continued staff rationalisation of the civil service by maintaining an employment freeze.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education got the lion’s share of $905 million, followed by the Lands and Agriculture ministry ($497m), Home Affairs ($435m), Defence ($420m), and Health ($408m).

Chinamasa said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth was projected at 4,5% in 2018, on the back of agriculture (10,7%), mining (6,1%), electricity (28,5%), distribution, hotels and restaurants at 7,3%, adding inflation next year was projected to hover around 3,01% from an average of 3% in 2017.

He said the total expenditure for 2018 was projected at $5,74bn, with main expenditure of $3,27bn being employment costs.

Civil servants, Chinamasa said, would receive their 2017 bonus as promised, although payments would be staggered.

A total of $176m has been set aside for bonuses to be paid during the first half of 2018.

Chinamasa did not give a tangible solution to the current cash shortages faced by the nation.

“Already President Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken the first steps towards a lean government structure by beginning to reduce the size of government by trimming down the number of ministers from 27 to 21, and in this regard, savings will be realised progressively through identification of redundant staff as ministries are combined and rationalised,” he said.

“Currently, too many grades in the public service are provided with vehicles as a condition of service every five years, with the vehicles being licensed, insured, serviced and repaired at government expense.

“Permanent secretaries and equivalent grades will now have one personal issue vehicle, and commissioners and equivalent grades, one vehicle, while principal directors, directors and deputy directors and their equivalents will get vehicle loans.”

The Finance minister said fuel allowances would be cut, adding that government could not afford the $140m request for condition of service vehicles given the tight economic conditions.

He said he would review foreign business travel practices.

In the past, former President Robert Mugabe had a penchant for travelling with very huge delegations and going on almost every trip even those deemed unnecessary.

“Experience has shown that Zimbabwe delegations to regional and international fora being among the largest from the region at such gatherings,” Chinamasa said.

“Therefore, as part of approval of Cabinet authorities for external travel, the Office of the President and Cabinet, and Treasury will be enforcing rationalisation of the size of delegations, in compliance with this new requirement, without exception.

“As directed by the President, government will also be enforcing restrictions on the class of travel on the basis of grade, as communicated through periodic Treasury circulars to heads of ministries.

“In this regard, business class travel will, with immediate effect, be restricted to ministers, heads of ministries and equivalent grades, parastatal chief executive officers, for local authorities, mayors, town clerks, CEOs and constitutional commissioners.”

He said all other grades would, with immediate effect, travel in economy, with disciplinary measures to be meted on those who violate the policy.

Chinamasa said diplomatic missions would be downsized because they were gobbling $65m annually from the budget, resulting in a $17m debt.

He said Parliament must consider amending the Constitution on the issue of provincial and metropolitan councils to lessen the burden on the fiscus, while constitutional commissioners would work on a part-time basis because commissions were imposing an annual wage bill of around $11,6m, inclusive of $3,8m for commissioners.

On the 2018 elections, Chinamasa said he would allocate $132,2m for the polls resources since voter registration was already catered for in the 2017 budget.

On the wage bill, he said the freeze on recruitment for vacant posts assisted in cutting expenditure, and would be maintained across the board, save for critical posts as determined by Treasury and the Public Service Commission.

Chinamasa said the government would introduce a voluntary retirement scheme that serves to rationalise the public service wage bill. Chinamasa said youth officers and ward development co-ordinators will be rationalised down by 3 739 from 7 269, which would save $1,6m per month.

“Furthermore, 528 members of the Public Service without the requisite qualifications in terms of section 18(4) e(ii) of the Public Service Regulations are being retired. The retirement of the above members will entail payment of a severance package estimated at $8,7 million.”

MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese said although the budget sounded promising, the real challenge for the Zanu PF government was whether they would walk the talk.

“On paper, there are a lot of positive things, but the critical thing is that they must implement the budget statement because the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.

“However, I am still very worried about the budget deficit ($1,7bn). I would have preferred a situation where we live within our means and operate on a cash budget, where we eat what we kill.”

Gonese said the opposition was unhappy about the Health budget allocation of $408m, which is below the 15% of the National Budget as agreed to in the Abuja Declaration.

“We are also not happy about the $57m Parliament of Zimbabwe allocation because we are an arm of the State, whose main functions are watchdog. Parliament needs a budget of $100m,” he said.

Gonese also said Chinamasa failed to give tangible measures to solve the cash crisis.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance chairperson David Chapfika said the budget was a paradigm shift from previous ones.

“I also think that Chinamasa should have seriously looked at labour laws, which prohibit investment. If we do not review labour laws, we will not succeed.

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24 Comments

  1. josphat mugadzaweta

    defence gets bigger budget than health like in mugabe’s years. this man is simply undoing what he did a few years back and as gonese has rightly said, walking the talk is always zanu’s challenge. 90% of the agriculture budget will still go to zanu chefs’input without meaningful output to show for it. please give us free and fair elections and we chose our own leader not the army’s pawn called lizard!!!

    1. very stupid indeed Josphat… in most countries defence gets the largest share because the bussiness of defence is is indeed very expensive and also very important.. after all armed conflicts can claim more lives than epidemics.. wake up and stop being negative about everything without a well thought reason

    2. You post on a daily basis with ana idiotic mind, be positive for a change maybe you will enjoy the air in the new Zimbabwe. Lets not forget the number of ministries also that are under Defence

      1. josphat mugadzaweta

        the two of you are zanu goons like patrick joao. how can you compare the countries with countries like usa who have the luxury to spend on military expeditions because they have budget surpluses. here we need to cut the army, cio and police force. they are only contributing to the fiscal deficit.

  2. Hopefully the 15bn will find it’s way back and help solve the cash crisis. Labour laws definitely need revisiting, the trend of employing people for numbers instead of performance, and unnecessary bonuses must be dealt with if we are to realise production. It’s not a matter of being at work, it’s about working and being productive and paid for the time put on work. Effort should be put towards understudying how labour policies in developed countries yield productivity and profitability, the idea of coping/comparing with failed countries will only lead to failure.

  3. MAFIRAKUREVA 01

    Does this mean we do not have cash shortages in Zim??…or can we say by not addressing the prevailling cash CRISIS, the minister have a significant stake in money changing and their syndicates which are schattered all over major towns and cities of Zim?? Trust me Hon Minister of finance…you are turning a deaf ear/blind eye to this burning issue at your own peril….surely you will see yourself out of office…vanhu varikubirwa mari nema money changers vanhu havasi kurara mudzimba…there is no cash in the banks this is real its NO secret!!

  4. Great!!! If anyone needs to be retired without further ado, it’s Tobaiwa Mudede.

  5. I believe that our true redemption as a country shall only begin once we have a proper opposition Government after the 2018 elections. Surely with ED’s shocking failure of recycling famed crooks in his new cabinet instead of making a clean break with the past just shows there’s no chance in hell we’ll get very far

    1. What guarantees you that opposition govt will change everything to good?ED will deliver.Chinamasa is being pragmatic and his budget is not bad at all.There are too many of you who think change is only brought by opposition parties.

    2. Soon your so called opposition parties will be rendered irrelavant when the ‘crooks’ deliver

  6. Let’s not criticize for the sake of it.I have gown through the budget and I mast say, for the first time Patrick has presented something meaningful.Let all patriotic Zimbabweans support the vision of our president.Remember he has been by the former president’s side for long and he knows exactly where grandpa was getting it wrong.looking forward to implementing the measures outlined in the budget.

  7. lets not be unreasonable here…no can still change over night,just because he did not address the cash crisis does not mean he is not working on it,give this man a break he has pressure and doing whatever he can to restore order and balance.

  8. Even if u change leaders now and again ,there is no leader who is going to feed anyone ,Zimbabweans lets give ED time and let us work to feed our families ,not just saying opposition ,opposition havauye kuzokubikira sadza ,things will improve for the better

  9. @Fransisco and @General Bae——you are just NINCOMPOOPS

  10. For the first time in a long time, we read a budget statement with some optimism. While it may not be perfect, its a very positive statement compared to what we have become accustomed to, a big step in the right direction. as for the implementation, it remains to seen, but ED has already set the tone. If Obert Mpofu’s pronouncement on road blocks yesterday is anything to go by, I see more misters and hopefully civil servants too,reading from the same script.

    It is sad that there are some hero worshiping opposition supporters who will not want to see anything good happening in Zim unless their party is in charge. I know you are scared that if things get better by the time we vote a lot of us who at the moment would vote Morgan Tsangirai if elections were held today, might find ourselves changing our minds. At the end of the day they say “Its the economy stupid!’, All we care about is having food on the table after an honest day’s work.

  11. @yahweq that’s the spirit comrade….On the 21st of November 2017 we,collectively, cleared the biggest hurdle ever since the white colonialist rule, give ED a chance .Remember you gave Mugabe 37 years , unfortunately he failed to deliver., better days lie ahead.#Iwe neni tine basa,’Asante Sana’

  12. I think we may need to salute the Minister for showing rare bravery. Cutting Chefs luxuries is placing reality ahead of politics and I really think he should be applauded. Implementation is another challenge but for now he has shown even party supporters that the days of reaping where you did not sow are over.The way to go Mr Minister

    1. You are spot on, implimentation is the second phase for now kudos to the minister. We can then pressurise him to walk the talk but simply dismiss the budget as some of us here are doing is clear politicking, cheap politics, you here Gonese of the MDC T clamouring for more money for MPs, gosh! We need to cut that expenditure as well just as those of the ministers were cut

  13. The 2018 budget is what a developing economy like ours need. Those criticising it are doing so to further their waning political careers. What else do you need after government travel expenditure was cut, civil servants rationalised those above 65 retired, indigenisation policy revised. For those crying for health to get more money give reasons. Why should health, education, social services get more money ahead of productive sectors such as mining, agriculture and tourism? For me it is not about which ministry gets what, it is about ensuring that we generate the income which we should then spend on essential but non-productive services such as health, education and social protection. We need to see more and more money going towards our productive sectors so that we grow the cake than crying to have a bigger chunk of a small cake.

  14. Mr Gonese, you are adding to the bad public view that opposition has paled into irrelevance by opposing for the sake of being on the opposition.

    When someone does good, take time to appreciate because you will need to work with them tomorrow.

    You cannot always live within your means and achieve required results. You look at the deficit from the point of view of what is meant to be achieved, and what is at stake if the deficit is suddenly cut off. Also, look at how much of the deficit, and government expenditure has been reduced. Most of Zimbabweans have recently owned houses through loans.

    Secondly, You do not rush to attack the new government for anticipated failure to walk the talk. Give them time, then if they fail, release your opposition vernom.

    Contradictorily, to your opposition cry to live within means, you are crying against cutting the parliament expenditure budget (you obviously could have been gaining from it).

    Also, I think the cash crisis and labour laws are not solved by over one night and we await your work in parliament to legislate, de-legislate and solve the endless list of problems facing our just born government.

    To conclude, I am wondering why you sound so much like not celebrating the new era in Zim, and not appreciating the excellent budget Cde. Chinamasa has unveiled, and the costs so drastically cut, like never seen before MDC was born.

  15. Gonese Get away stupid . how can you want Parliament to get 100 m when health is getting 408 m. You only think of your pockets not the problems that the country is facing. Get away thus why you and your party will never rule this country coz you are selfish.

  16. Retrenchment does not solve anything, with an already high unemployment rate, retrenching workers is adding salt to the wound. What we need is an environment which attracts investors, creates jobs for the people. In this situation the government will get more revenue in form of taxes from both the investors and the workers. Cinamasa, ure creating more problems instead of splving the problem. Your main agenda should be on revamping the industry to create more jobs. BULLSHIT

  17. opposition not there for the sake opposing

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