MPs deliberate on Budget

HARARE - Members of Parliament are next week expected to converge in Nyanga to deliberate on the long-awaited 2014 National Budget.

This comes as the Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had postponed the budget presentation from the traditional month of November to this month, arguing there was need for wider consultations.

The workshop — organised by the Finance and Economic Development portfolio committee — is aimed at educating the legislators on issues of budget formulation in anticipation of Chinamasa’s budget presentation on December 19.

The committee is chaired by David Chapfika, Zanu PF MP for Mutoko South.

“Our portfolio committee is going to be meeting from Monday until Wednesday to discuss the budget and it is the second part of the ongoing budget process which started last month with a pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls last month,” said Chapfika.

The recent announcement by the Finance ministry that the budget would be presented next week came as a surprise — after both Houses of Parliament adjourned for a seven-week break ending on January 28 next year.

Business to be conducted on December 19 will be the budget presentation, although it is open to the Government to have other business included on the agenda.

The budget presentation will entail Chinamasa tabling two important documents: the Estimates of Expenditure for 2014 and a draft Finance Bill to give effect to proposed taxation changes.

The National Assembly will then adjourn to allow MPs, Parliamentary portfolio committees and the public to study the Budget package.

MPs will also be able consult their constituencies in preparation for the ensuing debate.

Legislators have raised concern over the adjournment of Parliament to next year saying they are prepared to debate urgent government issues soon, notwithstanding the postponement date.

Chinamasa’s 2014 national budget presentation comes against the backdrop of an increase in the closure and liquidation of scores of companies and ballooning unemployment in the past 12 months.

Analysts say the new administration should come up with 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’s 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 these they are few firms that are operating profitably.

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 of 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.

 

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