Biti Unveils US$4 Billion 2012 Budget

Presenting his 2012 budget statement in parliament on Thursday, Biti said he had originally set the 2012 budget at US$3.4 billion before factoring in anticipated revenues from diamond sales.

He further projected a growth rate of 9.4 percent for 2012, a negligible increase from the 9.3 percent for 2011, with agriculture and mining as the major drivers.

“The target for this year is growth rate of 9.3 percent which I have no doubt we will achieve very easily,” Biti said.

“In 2012 we anticipate that our economy will grow by 9.4 percent. We anticipate that we will be able to maintain inflation at under 5 percent.”

The growth momentum will be underpinned by expansion in finance, mining, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and transport sectors.

Finance is expected to grow by 23%, mining 15.8%, tourism13.7%, agriculture 11.6%, manufacturing 6%, with transport and communication expected to grow by 6% respectively.

Biti gave an annual projection of below 5 percent inflation, up from a -5.5 percent projected for 2011.

He said the 2012 budget was inspired by the need for economic growth and job creation.

The Finance minister further revised the tax free threshold from the current US$225 for 2011 to US$250 starting January 1, 2012 while the bonus free threshold for 2012 was pegged at US$700, up from US$500 for 2011.

“With effect from the 1st of January 2012, we propose to move tax free threshold to US$250 per month,” he said.

The Finance minister said imports remained very high for a small economy like that of Zimbabwe with the bulk of these being fuel and passenger cars.

He also decried the recurrently high employment costs which have since gobbled 63 percent of the total 2011 revenue.

Biti also made provisions for the country’s referendum, although he did not mention the possibility of elections in his presentation to parliament.

He further emphasised the need for political stability in the country saying the absence of the rule of law puts a damper of the country’s prospects of realising total economic growth.