Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, would present the 2021 mid-term fiscal policy statement next week Thursday amid expectations that the Government will continue with policies that promote economic stability.
Earlier the Government had indicated the budget review statement was going to be presented today. However, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development late yesterday issued a statement clarifying that the much-anticipated fiscal policy presentation would be done next week.
Consistent with the Covid-19 guidelines, the ministry said the budget review presentation will be largely virtual, and would be broadcast on mainstream radio and television stations as well as various online streaming platforms.
“The public and all stakeholders are advised that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honourable Professor Mthuli Ncube, will be presenting the 2021 mid-term budget and economic review to Parliament on Thursday 29th July 2021, starting at 1400hrs,” reads part of the statement.
Financial market analyst, Mr George Nhepera, said the mid-term fiscal policy statement comes against a backdrop of a general stability in the economy that is characterised by stability both on the exchange rate front and the general pricing of goods and services.
“This is unlike last year during the same period when the country went into its first lock-down period after the reported spikes in Covid-19 cases,” he said.
“By then the decision to quickly move away from austerity measures, which by nature were restrictive of expenditure, to stimulus policies and spending by the Government, was indeed a very noble and wise decision.
“This is what has largely resulted in us receiving the economic stability dividend we are enjoying as a country.”
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced the weekly foreign exchange trading auction last year, which has helped improve accessibility of forex by companies, as well stabilising the exchange rate.
“Our hope is that the Minister of Finance continues with the same path of introducing more and more stimulus policy packages since we are now in another lock-down period and battling the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr Nhepera.
Another economic commentator, Mr Munyaradzi Mhaka, said expectations were high that the mid-term fiscal policy would come with measures to boost disposable incomes.
“The statement should also focus on boosting disposable incomes, tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and restore market confidence,” he said.
Last year, Prof Ncube announced a $421,6 billion National Budget for this year in which he handed down tax relief measures to cushion workers and corporates in line with the Government’s thrust to steer increased production and widening the job market.
Prof Ncube had to strike a delicate balance between maintaining a tight macro-economic policy, incentivising production and cushioning workers and vulnerable groups.
Coming out of a background of austerity measures and the recent macro-economic and natural disaster shocks in the last two years, the 2021 budget buttressed the inclusive ideals of the National Development Strategy (NDS 1: 2021-2025).
President Mnangagwa launched the new blueprint last year to lead the way towards Vision 2030, succeeding the short-term Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which has scored major milestones.