CONSUMERS have demanded that the upcoming 2024 national budget must prioritise social spending by lowering tax rates and bank fees while funding entrepreneurial initiatives, a new survey has indicated.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) recently surveyed a diverse group of people to determine social spending needs ahead of the 2024 national budget. This comes as Treasury has signalled that it is dead broke by knocking down a proposed national budget of ZWL$110 trillion by 56,54% for the 2024 fiscal year.
This has prompted experts to warn that this would affect social spending as has been the case in the past.
“Scrap or reduce regressive taxes like the 2% tax. Avoid unsustainable tax incentives for already rich multi-national corporates. Lower effective personal income tax rate for those earning below the poverty datum line,” some of the demands from survey participants read.
“Promotion of use of the Zimdollar (ZWL$). The bulk of taxes must be collected in ZWL$, remove or at least reduce all IMTT (Intermediated Money Transfer Tax) on electronic transactions, reduce bank charges.”
The survey involved 5 600 participants from every district and province of the country, from which, women were 3 350, while men were 2 250, according to Zimcodd. Of this number, 357 persons with disabilities participated with 2 967 being youths.
Zimcodd said consumers proposed several funding packages to maximise human capital development and innovation, while also demanding transparency and accountability on the Women Development Fund.
Consumers suggested that 5% of the budget be allocated to the fund.
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“The citizens demanded that the 2024 national budget should establish the Children Empowerment Fund (CEF) to address the plight of children. Currently children are exposed to a number of social and economic ills such as child poverty, malnutrition, drug abuse and child marriage to mention but a few. Thus, the establishment of the CEF will help in redressing the challenges being experienced by children,” read some of the demands.
“The citizens proposed the formation of an inclusive Youth Development Fund (YDF) that caters for the needs and aspirations of the youth. The citizens demand that, at least 5% of the budget should be reserved for YDF. This funding can be generated from the mining sector with multinational corporations contributing to the fund.”
Zimcodd said that consumers also demanded the establishment of the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Fund.
“The funding must target thriving SMEs businesses. Amalgamation or merging of SMEs operating in one sector must be done to ensure optimum funding and productivity,” some of the demands by consumers read.
Calls for higher social spending has been prompted by the Zimdollar’s continued depreciation that has eroded personal and business incomes. In October, poor households nationwide began adopting seasonal income-earning and coping strategies to deal with loss in incomes.
Extra income generated is being used to pay critical family necessities like school fees and healthcare, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“Some households also engage in non-agricultural casual labour and self-employment, which vary by community but typically include land preparation, construction, digging deep wells, fetching water, gathering firewood, domestic help and producing and selling beer, bricks and handicrafts,” USAID said.
“Household engagement in petty trade is increasing during the off-farm season, which is typical and includes the sale of second-hand clothes, electrical gadgets, household items, fruits and vegetables.”