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Zimbabwe finance minister expresses shame at meagre budget

By Nqobile Bhebhe
Posted on Monday, 30 November 2015 13:52

The southern African nation’s budget has hovered around the $4 billion mark for the past three years, the clearest indicator of stalling economic growth.

A whole minister of finance presenting a $4 billion budget. It does not make me proud

In 2009, the budget stood at $934 million, $2.1 billion in 2010, while in 2011 it stood at $2.7 billion, and $3.9 billion and $4 billion in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

“Since I came into the ministry, I have hardly been worrying about figures,” he told a breakfast meeting following the presentation of the budget.

“A whole minister of finance presenting a $4 billion budget. It does not make me proud.”

Chinamasa said the economy will grow by 2.7% in 2016, up from this year’s 1.5%, although most analysts say this is as an ambitious projection.

Zimbabwe’s finance minister believes annual growth rates of between 7 and 8% can be registered in the next 10 years.

“We need to catch up on our time considering that we have lost a good 20 years over issues of resolving the land question,” he said.

“So we need to catch up and for that to happen we need to grow consistently at around 7 to 8% for the next 10 years. If we fail then we are not getting there. We have the potential.”

Chinamasa said Zimbabwe should not be content with gross domestic product of $14 billion.

“Our growth rate is too low. At 1.5% this year and 2.7% next year. We should never be content with a gross domestic product of $14 billion. It’s so little.”

Opposition parties described the budget as a damp squib, predicting a tough year ahead.

“The budget does not offer an economic stimulus to ensure recovery and sustainable growth,” People’s Democratic Party spokesperson for economic affairs, Settlement Chikwinya, said.

“The budget is unrealistic and revenue targets expected by Chinamasa in 2016 will not be achieved thereby widening the budget deficit.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has failed to gain traction since the July 2013 elections that saw President Robert Mugabe extending his rule.

The bulk of the budget — $3,685 billion — would be gobbled by salaries and recurrent expenditure, leaving less than 8% for capital projects.

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