HARARE - Former Finance minister Simba Makoni has described the 2015 national budget presented last Thursday as devoid of sound content.
The opposition Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader said the ruling government has no clue how to tackle Zimbabwe’s mounting economic problems.
With the budget silent on allocations to government ministries as has been the norm since 1980, Makoni said Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was forced to make an ad hoc presentation when he was not ready.
“My sense is that the minister was not ready for this budget,” Makoni told a news conference.
“The statement was incoherent, and in some respect, even contradictory. He was rushed to meet a date, and just went through the motion.
“It is noteworthy that the minister did not announce any allocations to line ministers, apart from the $252 million allocated to the Presidential Input Scheme. It must be the first time that a budget has been presented without announcing the allocations to the different ministries.”
Makoni said next year’s budget statement “lacks sound rigorous analysis” and does not explain how the cash-strapped government is going to stimulate economic growth.
With Zanu PF’s attention cycle fixated on the 6th national people’s congress, a critical analysis of the budget would be “considered politically incorrect and unacceptable, especially in the week before the ‘elective congress’, against the background of the blood bath in Zanu PF.”
In his budget statement, Chinamasa estimated a GDP growth of 3,1 percent this year and 3,2 percent next year, but did not explain the source of the growth.
Concurrently, he predicted a slowdown in all sectors, especially agriculture and mining, which were anchors to last year’s 6,1 percent growth which he was forced to revise to 3,1 percent.
“The minister used some attractive sound bites, but gave no content. For example: ..........mining is the anchor for socio-economic transformation; we operate an unsustainable pricing structure; there has been progress in strengthening the financial services sector, and the sector is stable; we have a 15 point debt resolution strategy; our balance sheet is very strong; and we need new capital injection into the economy; etc.”
“But when you analyse the statement, you find no elaboration of those sound bites, and worse, no proposals or measures for realising them,” Makoni said.
The former Sadc executive secretary said while Chinamasa admitted to the closure of companies and rising unemployment, he did not give any proposals “for mitigating the catastrophe”.
With the Indigenisation Act, that forces foreign companies to cede 51 percent of their shares to locals seen as a major stumbling block to attracting much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI), Makoni said Chinamasa’s “lame proposals” did little to bring coherence.
“On indigenisation, the minister’s statement further confused, rather than clarifying the matter,” Makoni said.
“There is need for clear public guidelines and parameters for local and foreign investors to apply.”
He said a budget statement “should present a vision and road map of where the government plans to take the national economy.”
“It should also provide a compass for the rest of society to follow and base their own actions,” he said.
“In our current situation, a few anchor issues should have been posited.
“A government that is basking in the glory of a so-called landslide victory, should have the guts and will to break new ground.”