Ministry’s paltry allocation inadequate to revive industry

THE 2019 National Budget fails to adequately fund the industrialisation programme that would help revive Zimbabwe’s ailing economy after only $27,5 million was allocated to the Industry and Commerce ministry for the purpose against a bid of $306,1 million, a parliamentary committee has said.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

A report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry which was tabled in the National Assembly last week said $102 million was needed to capitalise the ailing State-owned conglomerate Industrial Development Corporation, while $200 million was supposed to go towards special economic zones (SEZ) infrastructure.

The total allocation for the ministry, at $47 055 000 was, however, a 119% increase from the 2018 budget of $21,4m.

“While the ministry is happy with overall allocations to the policy and administration and trade development programmes, the main concern of the committee is on the industrialisation programme which had a bid of $306,1 million, but was allocated $27,5 million,” the committee report reads.

“The major items were $102 million for industrial retooling/venture capital under the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and $200 million earmarked for SEZ infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, only $30 million was allocated to the IDC whilst allocations for SEZ seem to have been included in the blanket figure of $41,8m given to the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida) under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) vote.”

Zimbabwe imports most goods after its manufacturing industry collapsed at the height of hyper-inflation in 2008 and has since failed to retool. But a shortage of US dollars, the currency Zimbabwe adopted in 2009, has resulted in regular price spikes and shortages of fuel, cooking oil and basic commodities.

“While the need for austerity measures, especially with respect to government is very apparent, more-so is the need to accelerate the industrialisation drive if we are to turn around the economy and steer it towards the achievement of Vision 2030,” the report reads.

While government failed to fully fund the industrialisation programme, the budget Blue Book shows that the President’s Office was allocated $15,7m in 2019 for foreign travel expenses, and $1,5m for domestic travel expenses.

In 2018, the OPC was allocated $17m for foreign travel expenses, but spent $23,1m while for domestic travel, $700 000 was allocated, but expenditure had reached $2,6m by September.

Source: Newsday

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