ECONOMISTS have urged Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to redo the 2024 budget as the one he presented this week only serves to condemn the rest of the population to abject poverty.
Ncube presented a ZWL$58,2 trillion 2024 budget on Thursday saying the domestic economy is projected to grow by 3,5% next year.
But renowned economist Gift Mugano said Parliament should reject the budget and order Ncube to work on a pro-poor budget.
“Parliament must reject the anti-people and anti-industry budget which was presented. The proposed tax hikes and the move to exclude the informal traders from the mainstream economy will bring more pain to the already impoverished people,” Mugano said.
“The decision to exclude traders without VAT [value-added tax] certificates is very harsh and insensitive considering that more than six million people thrive on trading in the face of 85% formal unemployment and drought of economic opportunities. These people, in their individual capacities, don’t have annual sales turnover of US$25 000 which is required to secure the VAT certificate.”
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti described the budget as a shocking parody of fascism.
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“The 2024 budget reflects a regime totally oblivious of the structural challenges facing the economy, the plight of the ordinary citizen, and the myriad issues affecting business. The budget betrays lack of respect of economic fundamentals and as a result its prescriptions are a disastrous penology of cruel extractive illegal if not unconstitutional measures,” he said.
“The imposition of a massive array of taxes on a population mulcted by poverty and social challenges is reflective of this anti-citizen polity. The increase in tollgate charges, passport fees, duty on soft drinks, vehicle registration, and fuel levy are narcissistic and unnecessary.”
Biti said the proposed government takeover of third party insurance was clearly unconstitutional.
He said the budget failed to address the exchange rate mess, thus guaranteeing continued existence of exchange rate arbitrage and hyperinflation.
“It fails to give relief to working people and punishes the same through a vast array of punitive revenue measures. It will be a long winter of suffering.”
Economist Prosper Chitambara said: “The national budget must contain a clear implementation, monitoring and evaluation matrix articulating key initiatives in the preceding budget, progress made and a plan and timeline for key milestones to be achieved during the budget period.”