Call for 2019 budget to prioritise industry revival

24 Oct, 2018 - 00:10 0 Views
Call for 2019 budget to prioritise industry revival Minister Mthuli Ncube

The Chronicle

Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has been called to prioritise financing of infrastructure projects in Matabeleland region and the revival of Bulawayo industries in its next year’s budget.

This emerged during a public consultation on the 2019 national budget held in Bulawayo yesterday by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance. The consultative meeting was attended by members of the public and representatives from the civic society.

Stakeholders at the forum said the national budget statement, to be presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube next month, should prioritise allocation of resources to outstanding infrastructure projects such as the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road and the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

“The Government needs to prioritise allocation of resources to fund infrastructure projects such as Bulawayo-Nkayi Road in Matabeleland North province.

It has been far long before the rehabilitation of that road was completed. In the region we also have roads such as Tsholotsho-Lupane as well as Lupane-Kwekwe, all such projects need attention in the 2019 national budget,” said Mr Jacob Nyathi, a participant at the meeting.

Participants said revival of ailing firms such as CSC, should be treated as a matter of urgency to unlock job opportunities. At its peak in the 1990s, Zimbabwe’s largest beef processor and marketer, used to handle up to 150 000 tonnes of beef and associated by-products annually. CSC used to export to the European Union, where it had an annual quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef and would earn about $45 million annually. For the past 10 years CSC has been making a $6 million loss annually. Several Bulawayo firms are facing operational challenges while some have closed over the years.

A senior Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) official, Mr Percy Mcijo, said Government should forge ahead with austerity measures to breathe new life into the economy.

“The 2019 national budget should address fiscal deficit by ensuring the country lives within our means. Let’s do things that we have budgeted for,” he said.

Government has already crafted the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which details economic recovery strategy towards a middle-income economy by 2030.

An official from the Bulawayo Vendors Association Mr Michael Ndiweni said Government should also come up with incentives for entrepreneurs in the informal sector to encourage formalisation.

“While Government is encouraging informal sector to regularise operations or activities, at the moment there are no incentives being given to players in the sector to allow them to grow their businesses as they formalise operations,” he said.

It also emerged during the forum that citizens desire improved financing of health and education sectors. In his closing remarks, a committee member who presided over the Bulawayo meeting Dr Matthew Nyashanu said:

“It is within our spirit as Parliament that the budget must be able to address the will of the people, it is our wish that the budget must demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that its intention is to improve the quality of life of our people”.

Today, the Portfolio Committee will be conducting the public consultations at Chinotimba Hall in Victoria Falls in the morning, Hwange in the afternoon, Chivhu and Masvingo at the Civic Centre. Tomorrow, the Portfolio Committee is expected to be in Gwanda (Gwanda Hotel) in the morning as well as in Bikita (Bikita Rural District Council boardroom) in the morning and in Mutare at Sakubva Hall in the afternoon. On Friday, the team will be in Beitbridge (Vembe Seconday School) in the morning, Marondera (Mbuya Nehanda Hall) in the morning and Harare (New Ambassador Hotel) in the afternoon.

The public hearings, which seek to strengthen Parliament and citizens’ role in the formulation of the national budget and are conducted every year in fulfilment of section 28 (5) of the Public Finance Management Act.

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