Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube yesterday presented the 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review & Supplementary Budget statement in Parliament. Prof Mthuli presented the midterm budget statement under the theme, ‘Building a Strong Foundation for Future Prosperity’. However, before he could deliver his presentation, Opposition MDC Members of Parliament boycotted the session allegedly protesting the presence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Speaker of Parliament Hon Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda ruled that MDC MPs would not be allowed to attend Parliament proceedings even after the President would have left. This ruling was made after Hon Joseph Chinotimba (ZANU PF Buhera West) disputed the absence of the MDC MPs whom he said were confused as they demanded benefits from Government led by a President they purportedly did not recognise as legitimate.

Highlights of the Mid-Year Budget Review & Supplementary Budget statement

  • There is need for need for a supplementary budget for 2019. Projected total expenditure stands at ZWL 18.62bn. This is against expected revenue of ZWL 14.1bn
  • Supplementary budget will ensure the cushioning and cost of living allowances which have already been agreed with civil servants, hence budget for civil servants will increase from ZWL 4.1bn to ZWL 5.9bn
  • With regards to Food Security and Agriculture 2019 / 20 farming season, Government will extend ZWL 1.67bn to support strategic crops such as grains, soya beans and cotton.
  • On social services infrastructure, Min Mthuli says construction of 17 schools commenced in 2013 and is expected to be complete by this year. A budget of ZWL 26.6m has been set aside.
  • On Health infrastructure, ZWL 68m additional funding needed for Government upgrading of health infrastructure and constructing rural health posts including upgrading of District hospitals.
  • Government has distributed 189 000 metric tonnes of grain since Jan which has supported 757 000 households, including both rural and urban, at least 59% of rural population will be food insecure during peak food need period.
  • Additional ZWL 125m for institutions that promote good governance and democracy, for instance Commissions like the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission
  • Mining has contributed USD 1.3 bn in first half of the year. This is 68% of total exports. Mining supports USD 45K formal employees and over 1m small scale and artisanal miners.
  • On infrastructure and utilities, Min Mthuli says additional 1.3bn will go to projects in water, energy, irrigation and social services. This will give total infrastructure budget of 2.5bn
  • Min Mthuli says Government has approved electricity tariff increases by more than 250 % for different categories of users
  • Forex earners will be charged for ZESA in forex, hence this will improve power supply with immediate effect, by improving ability to import. ZERA is expected to release further details
  • The 2% tax, reviewed tax free threshold to ZWL 20, and ZWL 10,000 max to 15,000. Proposed to exempt additional transactions to eliminate double taxation.
  • Cash in and cash out transactions now follow 2% tax bracket and now applies between money agents and customers.
  • Removal of duty on lithium iron solar batteries to promote investment in solar energy, and reduce power demand
  • Proposed toll fees for light motor vehicles is now pegged at ZWL 10, Commuter Omnibuses at ZWL 15, Buses at ZWL 20, Heavy vehicles at ZWL 25 and Trucks at ZWL 50

The Speaker of Parliament tasked Members to extensively go through the statement to enable them to contribute meaningful debate during next week’s sitting.

On another matter, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza tabled the much awaited National Social Security Authority (NSSA) forensic audit report. Minister Nzenza told Parliamentarians that the report unearthed some significant irregularities related to corporate governance, investment, properties, information communication and technology and human resources. She indicated that the Ministry engaged lawyers to assist in procurement and due diligence as a result the process took two months hence the delay in tabling this report. She said findings of the report will provide guidance in determining which issues require a legal approach, both civil and criminal. The full report is still being printed and Members will get their copies soon for debate.

Meanwhile, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Chairperson Hon Misheck Matatranyika (ZANU PF Makoni South) moved a motion to withdraw the adverse report passed on the Maintenance of Peace and Order (MOPO) Bill. The Committee met on the 1st of August and considered the notice of amendments signed by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and resolved to withdraw the adverse report previously issued as the notice of amendments addresses the Committee’s concerns.

Source: Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)