Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) notes the national budget presentation by Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mtuli Ncube.
As VISET our attention is drawn to the proposed US$30 per unit collected by landlords for small and medium enterprises operating from business premises and view this as an assault on the ordinary man and woman trying to eke a living in these challenging COVID-19 times when most are yet to recover from losses incurred during lockdown. It goes without saying that landlords will simply pass on this tax to vendors and informal traders who are then forced to hike prices in response to this new cost.
Whilst acknowledging the few positives from this budget such as doubling of tax free threshold to ZWL 10000, as well as the increase in funding to the social ministries, we feel that the proposed tax undoes any advantage in that regard. It is also disheartening to see that judging from the allocation to the Ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare of ZWL 6 929 million, there does not appear to be provision for a comprehensive social protection programme to protect the vulnerable, implying that no lessons were learnt from the Covid-19 induced lockdowns when many households were left economically vulnerable.
Given that we are still in the throes of a global pandemic, more resources should also have been channelled to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to better equip our health services.
It is VISET’s contention that whilst it is understandable that the Minister should seek to widen the country’s tax base, this should not be at the expense of the ordinary citizen. Rather, Government should come up with policies that ensure there is a plugging of loopholes that unscrupulous people make use of in the smuggling of gold and other mineral resources, thereby depriving the country of revenue that could be channelled to the provision of social services.
VISET, along with its partners, had also undertaken a series of pre budget seminars throughout the country and is disappointed that the views as expressed by people are not captured in the budget statement. Whilst acknowledging the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this year’s budget formulation process, we believe expediency should be no excuse to failure of ensuring citizens’ aspirations are the centrepiece of such critical processes.
Source: VISET Information and Publicity Department