Economic pain not being shared

HARARE - Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s recent confirmation that government will soon buy vehicles for parliamentarians exposes government’s insincerity in tackling its ballooning budget deficit.

It also flies in the face of Ncube’s claim to parliamentarians this week that Zimbabwe is putting in place measures to reduce its budget deficit to four percent of gross domestic product in 2019, down from an 11,1 percent forecast this year through various expenditure cuts.

Despite Ncube and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s persistent claims that everybody will share the pain of reducing the budget to a single digit, it is now clear that our leadership is being spared.

Ncube told legislators during a pre-budget briefing that the government would cut foreign travel yet Mnangagwa had just flown to Equatorial Guinea for an indefensible State visit.

Just like former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa also appears to be very fond of senseless visits to other countries which increase government expenditure.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba’s claim that the Guinea visit was part of the fight against sanctions imposed on the country by the West sounds very implausible.

Clearly, only the ordinary citizens are paying the price for the sins of government which overspent in an astonishing way in the run up to the 2018 harmonised elections. For example, the two percent tax on all money transfers has caused untold suffering for ordinary people.

Not only did it trigger an astronomical explosion of rates on the foreign currency black market — which remains a source of foreign currency for many companies because of limitations at the central bank — it also caused a spike in prices of essential goods.

Interestingly, permanent secretary in the ministry of Finance and Economic Development George Guvamatanga recently claimed in Parliament that essential goods could even be more expensive in the absence of the two percent tax on all money transfers which, according to him, was introduced by Ncube so that everyone contributes towards subsidies.

Guvamatanga incredibly claimed that citizens of Zimbabwe enjoy cheap bread, fuel, cooking oil and maize meal among other commodities because of the government’s subsidies.

For as long as the government continues to live beyond its means, it will find it difficult to win the buy in of ordinary citizens who are suffocating under a very heavy tax burden.

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