Presenting a pre-budget statement to Members of Parliament, Biti said Zimbabwe will be able to meet revenues target of US$2.7 billion set for this year but complained that the country is spending a lot of money on ‘useless’ things. He said the country has spent US$40 billion on foreign travel by government officials who include cabinet minister and President Robert Mugabe trips saying the country must cut on unnecessary expenditure.
“For 2012 we are going to work with a figure of US$3.5 billion,” Biti said. “The economy is projected to grow by 7.8%-9% in 2012,compared to growth rate of about 9.3% in 2011.”
“Of the US$5.7 billion of the total imports in 2009, we spent US$1 billion on purchasing fuel, not that there is something wrong with that but we spent US$1 billion as a country to buy vehicles in the private sector for individuals. Other expenses include US$100 million on potato chips while some of the money went to buy clothes. We have failed as a country to produce basic things.”
Biti said the country will have to finance the referendum and elections that are set for next year. He said government must adopt the civil service audit which exposed that there are 70 000 ghost workers which on the government payroll adding that the wage bill is chewing 67 percent of the total revenues.
“There will be a referendum next year and that has to be monetised. We have to prepare to fund elections again in 2012,” he said.
In his pre-budget statement to parliament, Biti said other sectors that will contribute to growth will be tourism, manufacturing, transport and communication. He also said the upcoming budget in November will also focus on the health and social sectors improvement.
Inflation is expected to average 3.7% and 5% by end of 2011and 2012 respectively, he said.
Biti said a freeze on import duty and basic commodities will remain until the country can produce and process enough food.