Industrialists have described the 2021 National Budget as pro-production and people-centred, and agree it is a good starting point for directing the economy in the next 12 months.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presented a $421 billion budget, which is aimed at building resilience and sustainable economic recovery.
Prof Ncube said recent shocks in the form of droughts, cyclones and the Covid-19 pandemic, have undermined Zimbabwe’s efforts to build physical infrastructure and delivery of planned public services, hence the need to build resilience.
The 2021 Budget pays attention to priority areas such as inclusive growth, developing and supporting productive value chains, optimising value from natural resources, social protection, engagement and re-engagement, effective institution building and governance and strengthening devolution by bringing decision making, infrastructure and knowledge to communities to address development gaps.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe national chairman Mr Tafadzwa Musarara told The Herald last night that the 2021 Budget was positive.
“I think it’s pro-production and people-centred and it is a good working document. It gives real strategic direction in terms of how the economy should perform in the next 12 months, protecting key enablers and promoting production,” said Mr Musarara.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Dr Tinashe Manzungu said: “It is a positive Budget which seeks to revive the economy. It seeks to fund more sectors of the economy following the measures adopted by Government such as the revival of agriculture.
“We are sort of jump-starting the economy after challenges brought about by unforeseen shocks such as natural disasters and we applaud this Budget, which co-opted some of our input and took note of our concerns.”
Former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said as industrialists, they liked the “thrust on value addition and beneficiation”.
“The Budget also pledges to work on currency stability and promoting fiscal discipline together with entrenching the foreign currency auction system. Also there is support for local procurement and the Buy Zimbabwe drive, which I think is good for stimulating local production.
“The Budget also provides for special support for agriculture value chains, together with the overall support for infrastructure development which stimulate the entire industrial production,” said Mr Jabangwe.
United Food and Allied Workers Union (UFAWUZ) general secretary, Mr Adiona Mutero, also said generally, the 2021 Budget “appears progressive”.
“We are seeing a bias towards health and education, which is positive.
“However, I don’t understand what these different taxes stands for and their purpose.
“Maybe it was time he has scrapped the IMMT (the 2 percent). On tax free threshold on wages though, it’s an improvement but a level of $15 000 could have left workers with some disposable income.
“And the bonus tax-free threshold, given the average income employees earn, I think it’s fine,” said Mr Mutero.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said: “Fairly balanced attempt by the Hon Minister, spreading the attention across many equally needy areas. Unfortunately the ongoing directive by Zimra for retailers and wholesalers and the entire rice value chain to pay VAT on rice backdated 2017 was left unattended yet has negative effects on supply and pricing of the product. US$30 presumptive tax on informal sector players will increase flow of revenue to the fiscus.
“Allocation towards industrialisation remains insignificant. Overall , the sector feels hard done and will soon engage the Minister to express our sentiments after wider consultations with the sector.”
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said through the 2021 Budget, Zimbabwe is now on the road to recovery driven by local production, a development that will minimise leaks of foreign currency through imports.
Prof Ncube said economic growth is expected to rebound in 2021 from the consecutive two-year slump to record 7,4 percent, driven by strong recovery in agriculture, mining, electricity, construction, transport and communication as well as finance and insurance.
Formal employment is projected to grow with about 150 000 formal jobs expected to be recovered after being lost due to Covid-19.
The attendant macroeconomic stability, improved supply of electricity, favourable agricultural season and effective policy implementation will also assist the growth and development agenda.