By Sij Ncube
Bulawayo, December 11, 2013 – Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa will present the long awaited 2014 national budget to the House of Assembly and the Senate next Thursday amid concerns the country’s economy is slowing down while several banks face closure owing to a biting liquidity crisis.
Willard Manungo, the secretary for finance and economic development, announced the date of the presentation of the national budget in a press statement on Wednesday.
Chinamasa’s 2014 national budget presentation comes in the backcloth of an increase in the closure and liquidation of scores of companies and ballooning of unemployment in the past 12 months.
Analysts say the new administration should come up an expansionist budget to revitalise the teetering economy which critics say has been stagnant since the fore-closure of the coalition government mid this year.
Expectations are high the budget would take into cognisance Zanu PF election promises, particularly job creation, revival of industries and a full roll-out of economic empowerment policies targeting the poor.
The government is struggling with reduced revenue in taxes as they are few firms that are operating profitable.
There is also controversy over the government’s black economic empowerment law which requires foreigner owned enterprises to surrender 51 percent of their stake to indigenous Zimbabweans and the punitive tax regime.
There have been suggestions from other quarters for the government to impose prohibitive importation taxes to protect the local manufacturing industries, particularly the clothing and textile sectors which have collapsed due to cheap imports from the Far East.
Bulawayo executives are pinning on the 2014 national budget as they expect Chinamasa to prioritise the revival of industries in the city, previously an industrial hub.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is advocating for a pro-poor budget which recognises that the bulk of workers in the country earn below the poverty dictum line estimated at over $600.
However, economic critics charge that no miracles are expected from Chinamasa as the government has failed to improve citizens’ lives in the past 100 days that the government assumed office.