By Livingstone Marufu
Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa, has said Zimbabwe requires around $1,5 billion annually for infrastructure to kick start economic growth.
This comes as the Government moves to improve roads, rail and housing delivery system to stimulate the economy.
Minister Chinamasa recently told parliament that a significant fund should be reserved yearly to develop energy, water, rail and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors.
“We should be setting aside at least $1,5 billion annually towards our infrastructure. I want us to go on a journey together, collectively, step-by-step to get us out of the current situation and put right the structure of our budget.
“We made serious efforts in this budget to sort out the fiscal deficit, to sort out the employment structure in the civil service.
“All the income that we are receiving is going towards the payment of our wages including ourselves and none is left for operations, which is also an issue raised in the contributions,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said: “What we have to accept is that, until we change that structure, we are not doing our country any good because we need infrastructure in order to lay the foundation for our economic growth.
“Infrastructure in energy, water, roads, ICT and housing is very important to the country’s new economic growth trajectory.”
In the 2018 budget, Government set aside a total budget of $139 million for rail, road and air projects to improve and rehabilitate the country’s transport network infrastructure to enhance their efficiency.
However, that amount is not sufficient for all infrastructure developments.
The projects, which will be funded through fiscal resources, are expected to rehabilitate and expand rail, road and air projects in 2018.
Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that Government will ensure all planned projects are executed accordingly.
He said: “Given the critical role of transport infrastructure in the socio-economic development of the country, investments in transport infrastructure will be prioritised in 2018, targeting road, rail and aviation.
“Due to the state of our roads, $89,6 million and the Road Fund will target improvement in road network. This is through restoration and upgrading of damaged sections and bridges, dualisation of Harare-Beitbridge and critical sections of the network and capacitation of Road Authorities.”
Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) said Zimbabwe requires at least $26 billion over a period of 10 years to address a gap in infrastructural development and become competitive for investment.
The country currently has a growing infrastructure gap due to lack of investment.
In 2012, the World Bank estimated that $33 billion is required over two decades that is $1,7 billion per year while the African Development Bank puts its estimates at $2 billion per annum.
The figures are a far cry from reality, considering that Zimbabwe has used $1,9 billion for infrastructural development in the past seven years.
Figures from the IBDZ show that Zimbabwe has been using between $1 billion and $3 billion per year since 2010 with the highest figure being $500 million used in 2016.