FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has shot down requests by different ministries and departments for a $1,1 trillion 2021 national budget due to inadequate revenue.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Ncube is expected to announce a $421 million budget in Parliament tomorrow, which is way below the bids made by different ministries and government departments.
The $1,1 trillion requests for the 2021 national budget were put forward by different ministries during a Parliament pre-budget seminar held in Harare at the weekend.
Ncube shot down their requests, saying the fiscal space was constrained.
“We have a limited budget which is constrained by what we can collect through taxes as revenues and what we can borrow from the market without destabilising the economy. Therefore, while it is desirable to allocate resources to almost all areas, it is not easy and you may find that the allocated resources may not be enough to meet your requests,” Ncube said.
“I added up all the requests from the various ministries and departments, and they add up to $1,1 trillion. The GDP (gross domestic product) of Zimbabwe right now in 2020 is just over $1, 1 trillion and so the budget requests and the size of the economy are equal and therein lies the constraint,” he said.
Ncube said the budget ceiling was dictated by the ability to collect revenue and willingness to pay taxes.
“There are so many tax evaders I tell you,” he said.
Some of the departments that are underfunded include the Auditor-General’s Office which is pivotal in curbing corruption and budgetary over-expenditure by government departments.
There were also requests that the 2021 budget should prioritise water and sanitation issues, and upgrading of dams amid severe water shortages in the country, which have crippled business operations.
Ncube faces challenges in ensuring that the civil service is remunerated decently. Different stakeholders called for a big budgetary allocation towards agriculture as it ensures food security.
In his response, Ncube said the 2021 budget would provide resources for irrigation development, drought-proofing, mechanisation, veterinary and extension services.