The Herald (Harare)

27 November 2012

Zimbabwe: National Budget Set to Dominate Parly Debate

Parliament resumes sitting today with debate likely to centre on the 2012-2013 national budget presented by Finance Minister Tendai Biti a fortnight ago. Minister Biti presented a US$3,8 billion budget, likely to be the last under the inclusive Government, forecasting a 5 percent economic growth next year.

The various Portfolio Committees that met last week to review the budget are expected to present their reports with indications showing that all Government departments are not happy with the amounts they got.

Last week the chairman of the Budget Finance and Investment Promotion Committee Cde Paddy Zhanda said it was not necessary to continue debating the quantum of the budget but instead focus on the stimulus packages that can be adopted to revive the economy.

Cde Zhanda said it was imperative that Government addressed the issue of financing agriculture urgently to ensure increased productivity and called for the protection of local farmers from cheap imports from South Africa and Brazil.

He also urged Government to enact a comprehensive policy on contract farming based on the tobacco model that has resulted in an increase in the crop's yields over the past three years.

In his budget Minister Biti proposed to increase civil servants' salaries based on the inflation rate and announced a US$1 000 tax free bonus for workers.

Civil servants unions have since condemned the proposal saying it would result in marginal increases way below the poverty datum line.

The minister also proposed the introduction of measures to correct interest rates charged by banks and other charges that have deterred savings and an increase on excise duty on clear beer and cigarettes to fund the education sector.

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