COMMENT: It all started with austerity

30 Jul, 2021 - 00:07 0 Views
COMMENT: It all started with austerity Professor Mthuli Ncube

The Chronicle

“I HAVE learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than seeking to satisfy them.”

This famous quotation by 19th Century philosopher John Stuart Mill was used by Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, in his first National Budget in 2018.

The budget statement was aptly titled “Austerity for Prosperity”. This is because Minister Ncube implemented a number of austerity measures, infamously limiting the desires of Zimbabweans.

To achieve middle-income economy status by 2030, a raft of reforms had to be implemented.

The reforms covered privatisation, deregulation, free trade, austerity, and reductions in Government spending.

To realise Vision 2030, Government set out three crucial plans: the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (September 2018-December 2020), First Five-year National Development Plan (2021-2025) and Second Five-year National Development Plan (2026-2030).

The Transitional Stabilisation Programme was the most critical, yet equally most painful of the plans. Austerity measures were put in place to stabilise the macro-economy and lay a foundation for sustainable and shared private sector-led growth.

After stabilising the macro-economy, Government then moved on to implement the First Five-year National Development Plan, which is currently in full swing. Current reforms emphasise on growth, productivity and prosperity.

This is why it did not come as a surprise that Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the year 2021 has been projected to remain strong at 7,8 percent, slightly above the 2021 National Budget growth target of 7,4 percent.

The new projection was announced by Minister Ncube yesterday while presenting his mid-term 2021 National Budget policy review statement in Parliament.

Said the Minister: “The strong rebound of the economy is anchored on better 2020/21 rainfall season, higher international mineral commodity prices, stable macroeconomic environment and managed Covid-19 pandemic.”

He also projected higher growth rates in agriculture, electricity generation, manufacturing as well as financial services.

“Growth of the agriculture sector in 2021 has been revised upwards on account of higher-than-expected performance of almost all crops particularly maize, groundnuts, and sorghum. The sector is, therefore, estimated to grow by 34 percent, up from the original Budget projection of 11 percent,” said Minister Ncube.

And it all started with austerity.

Those who always seek to satisfy their desires instead of limiting them do not achieve big rewards.

The success of Government’s plans must be appreciated in light of the challenges that the country has been facing. From Cyclone Idai, to a devastating regional drought to Covid-19, the worst pandemic to hit the world during our lifetime.

To be able to still stabilise the economy and later grow the GDP against all these odds, is worthy of praise. The Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa has lived up to its electoral promises.

The future is bright. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

We call on the private sector and all Zimbabweans to join hands with their Government to defeat Covid-19 and rebuild the country.

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