The National Consumer Rights Association strongly condemns the mid-term budget that was announced by Government through Finance Minister Hon. Professor Mthuli Ncube this past Thursday as totally unacceptable and a punishment on the consumer.

The budget piles pressure on the unemployed and employed consumer without any corresponding cuts on wasteful and completely unnecessary public expenditure. Government continues to waste taxpayer’s money through rampant corruption and bloated and inefficient departments and agencies that are delivering nothing but pain on Zimbabweans. Whilst it is clear to all and sundry that it is corruption, clumsy policy making and complete disregard of the citizenry that has brought the country to its knees, unfortunately there is no indication that government is alive to this fact. The truth is, there will be no turn around without facing the hard truths and doing the necessary reforms. The problems are deeper and institutional, and most cannot be addressed by the Finance Minister as such but require and entire government to undertake comprehensive governance and economic reforms that will put confidence back into the economy. Transferring the burden of mis-governance to the consumer is not the way to go; it can only deepen suffering and misery and push the country towards the knife-edge cliff.

The hiking of the cost of electricity and the widening of taxes on mobile money transactions together with a raft of other inflation driving measures will not only burden the impoverished consumer but drive the cost of doing business which cost will be passed on to the consumer. As a direct consequence of the budget announcement, there is no doubt the fuel prices will go up and so will the price of bread, mealie meal, rice, sugar and other basic commodities. Business will push the cost of electricity, fuel and transactions to the already over-burdened consumer.

What Zimbabweans want is a budget that will: (a) address the shortage of bread and make goods and services available at an affordable price for all consumers everywhere; (b) reduce the cost of living; (c) arrest rampant corruption; (d) contain inflation to single digits; (e) reduce the tax burden on both the workers and the consumers in general; (f) create high paying jobs; (g) ensure workers are paid cost-of-living adjusted salaries; (h) improve the living conditions of workers; (i) improve service delivery; (j) reduce the cost of electricity, fuel, education, health care, and other services; and (k) make it easy for businesses to do business and generate foreign currency.

The mid-term budget will be none of the above. Instead it will worsen the economic and social conditions of consumers in a way not seen this decade. We therefore call upon government to eliminate police inconsistencies, corruption and government wastage, address electricity and fuel shortage. Reduce the cost of living, and radically cut government expenditure without harming service delivery. Our government is too big, too inefficient and too wasteful.

Source: National Consumer Rights Association (NACORA)