Tough call for Biti

HARARE - Finance minister Tendai Biti faces a daunting task in preparing the 2013 National Budget.

There are competing interests. The man faces a tough balancing act. The list of demands is endless.

The demands range from allocating funds for the elections to addressing escalating pressure from civil servants who are demanding higher salaries.

Biti also needs to work hard in maintaining the economic growth momentum. Several times, he has been forced to back down on his growth projections.

From an initial growth projection of 9, 1 percent, the economy is now expected to grow by 5, 4 percent —which will take a lot of work to attain anyway.

This is just part of the issues he need to address in his 2013 budget. From the limited and dwindling resources, Biti has to allocate resources to over 30 ministries.

This time around, Biti should be more realistic in his revenue expectations. Last time, he expected some $600 million from the country’s diamond sales, money which never came through.

While the diamond revenues would go a long way in narrowing the country’s budget deficit, it does not help the Zimbabwean nation to look forward to it. Because of politicking, the money simply won’t go into treasury.

Biti should also not base his revenue inflow projections on donor funds and vote of credit. He should also stop entertaining legislators’ demands. Considering the rough time Zimbabwe is currently going through financially, the MPs’ demands for luxuries should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.

Biti should also take heed of people’s demands — or suggestions — in the on-going 2013 national budget stakeholders’ consultative meetings.

One key issue people have asked Biti to tackle in his forthcoming budget is to scrap the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). They say the fund — set up to improve the lives of people in MPs’ respective constituencies — has been abused by most legislators.

Biti also needs to keep a close eye on government’s expenditure.

This year alone, millions of dollars were spent on government officials’ foreign trips — some of them not adding any value to the country.

We sincerely hope this time the honourable minister will bring this to an end, and in the process improve the lives of the struggling Zimbabwean populace.

Still on government expenditure, Biti should deal with the bloated civil service and unnecessary allowances in the sector.

However, the bonuses to the grossly underpaid civil servants are very much welcome.

Given the current political landscape, executing all these fiscal reforms would be a tough call.

Good luck minister. - Staff Writer

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