14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Budget Should Target the Poor

Photo: Cliff Owen/IMF
Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's finance minister.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti  is today expected to present the 2013 national budget against the background of growing skepticism over its ability to transform a liquidity crisis that has hamstrung local industries and resulted in increased job losses.

With an election looming next year, as well as a constitutional referendum before it, analysts and commentators said Treasury was likely to divert resources towards the plebiscites, leaving critical areas in dire need of support.

Judith Kaulem, Executive Director at Poverty Reduction Forum Trust (PRFT), said the budget was unlikely to deal with a glaring dilapidation of infrastructure across sectors, more specifically health, water and sanitation.

"It is likely that money that could have been channeled towards meeting people's basic needs especially in the social sectors will now be diverted towards elections," Kaulem, told The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets.

"Elections are necessary to ensure the country is democratically run, (but) focus on elections should not precede the needs of the people for whom the government seeks to serve," she said.

She said Zimbabwe is endowed with massive natural resources that have the potential to address the country's economic woes.

"Agriculture is still under performing (so) the 2013 budget will still be constrained," said Kau-lem.

Former Zimbabwe Nat-ional Student Union (ZINASU) president, Clever Bere, said the 2013 budget would likely be much more difficult since it was being crafted at a time the country was grappling with electioneering among the contending political parties.

"There has been retrogressive political shoving on the part of the entire government and Treasurer has become one of the battle grounds," he said.

"Unfortunately for students, the cadetship programme has been caught in between with challenges which resulted in some students being pushed out of schools," said Bere.

A Harare cross boarder trader, Mikhail Murwira (29), said Finance Minister Tendai Biti should address the needs of the poor, which he feel were not adequately addressed in the last budget.

"Sure, we understand that there is little money coming through to Treasury but the government should cut on their expenditure such as foreign trips and channel the money to health and education, which is not well catered for," said Moyo.

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