MDC to reluctantly pass 'shoddy' budget

HARARE - Opposition MPs will next week grudgingly pass the 2017 national budget in Parliament against a slew of objections, including a poor health sector allocation, among other concerns.

Apart from the measly $281 million allocated to the Health ministry, of which $220 million will be gobbled by salaries and service delivery costs, the opposition argue the budget excludes the poor.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said they would have loved to veto approval of the budget, if they had the numbers.

The party’s chief whip, Innocent Gonese, told the Daily News yesterday that they will critique Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s budget, just to fulfil an obligation.

“Owing to the outcome of the 2013 elections, we don’t have the numbers in Parliament but we will do our part to criticise the budget because we feel it is not for the people. It does not represent the interests of the poor, so we will play our role,” he said.

“The ruling party will not listen to our criticism and we cannot lobby individual MPs because the ballot is not secret. Only when we are choosing the Speaker do we use secret ballot, so it doesn’t work,” he added ruefully.

While Zanu PF has more than a two thirds majority in Parliament, the MDC has only 70 MPs in the National Assembly.

The balance of power is the same even in the Senate.

In his criticism of the budget, MDC shadow Finance minister, Tapiwa Mashakada, described Chinamasa’s growth forecast for 2017 as “based more on thumb-sucking and not on any realistic macro-model”.

“The economy remains stuck in a deflationary dungeon and the absence of economic stimulus measures such as increasing domestic consumption and gross fixed capital formation is inimical to growth,” he said, adding that “a capital budget of $520 million cannot spur growth”.

Mashakada also argued that the Treasury chief’s budget deficit projection of $400 million is inconsistent with a growth mode.

Opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti said in his state of the economy address that given persistent under performance of the budget, it was wrong and imprudent for the Finance ministry to provide for a $4,1 billion budget in 2017.

“It is dangerous and terrible economics to provide for an unfunded budget,” Biti said.

“In fact, it is implicit in Section 305 of the Constitution, that any expenditure appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in a financial year must be met with approved revenues from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“Our point is therefore that the Zimbabwean Constitution does not allow for the provision of a budget deficit.”

Biti said the Finance minister failed to ensure that Zimbabwe lives within its own means and as a result, the government has accumulated a huge domestic debt.

“As the PDP, we have consistently argued for the principle of a fiscal balance under pinned by the philosophy ‘we eat what we kill’.

“...Chinamasa has recklessly pursued an aggressive expansionary fiscal policy that paid no respect to fundamentals,” Biti said.

Meanwhile, an early item of business in both houses will be the passing of motions suspending various standing orders to permit the fast-tracking of the Finance Bill, the Appropriation Supplementary Bill and the Appropriation (2016) Bill, which authorises State spending for the 2017 fiscal year beginning January 1.

Portfolio committees’ chairpersons will then table their reports on the allocations of funds for the ministries under their supervision.

The Bills will be debated in the National Assembly and then transmitted to the Senate, which usually deals with all three Bills and passes them without exercising its constitutional right to suggest changes to the Bills.

Comments (2)

How anyone in their right minds believes Mugabe and/or ZANU is pro-people is beyond me. His budget for the defense and home affairs ministries far outweighs that for health and education. Posts in Agriculture, Health, and Education Ministries have been frozen while the army and police and the CIO continue to recruit. So it's more important to recruit more soldiers than to boost producti

Guramutunhu - 17 December 2016

Why doesn't the opposition just abstain from voting, instead of 'passing' it. Surely that would make a better political statement? What's wrong with you guys - you seem to be a bit pathetic. Rise to the occasion and get a life.

Homo Erectus - 18 December 2016

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