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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 13 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 49 NO 6
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 13th December, 2022
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.
(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker and welcome back.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you.
HON. MADZIMURE: I hope you had a good trip.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, very much so.
HON. MADZIMURE: Mr. Speaker, some three weeks ago, an Hon. Member stood in the House and asked the Minister of Energy and Power Development to come and give a Ministerial Statement on the state of electricity in the country.
As you are aware Mr. Speaker, this is our business part of the year as far as manufacturing is concerned. Industry uses this particular …
THE HON. SPEAKER: May you pull your microphone to face your mouth please?
HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I was saying that …
THE HON. SPEAKER: But you said that the matter was raised last week?
HON. MADZIMURE: No, no, it is now three weeks ago and the Hon. Minister was supposed to have come back. Yes, the matter was brought up by Hon. Munengami.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I have checked with the Clerk of Parliament. He said that the issue was raised last Thursday.
HON. MADZIMURE: No, last week was actually the second time…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Last Thursday was the second time?
HON. MADZIMURE: Yes, last Thursday was a reminder. So, looking at the situation Mr. Speaker, we cannot wait any longer. What happens in industries is that you have your programmes and some of the equipment that we now use is digitalised to the extent that the moment it is interrupted, there are so many losses that the industry incurs. Why? This is because there is no information as to when to expect electricity and when it will go off. The information that industry is using is now sketchy, gathered in bits and pieces as no one really understands what is going on. Industry is also preparing for annual shutdowns and these also indicate to industry what they will then do next year - but no one is certain at the moment and the Hon. Minister is quiet. This is quite disturbing. People must be informed about the budget that we are going to debate that it depends solely on what we are going to produce and transactions that happen within industry and commerce. Without that information, we are letting the country down and we do not expect miracles to meet even the budget. My plea is for the Minister to come and spell out the situation and programme, when to expect electricity so that even if we are to have the usual load shedding, but as far as industry is concerned, it must be known as and when we will have the load shedding.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. Let me check the Hansard record and let us see whether the Minister got the request so that it can be done as soon as possible. We will follow it up.
FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Finance Bill.
Question again proposed.
HON. MUTSEYAMI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon Mr. Speaker Sir. I think it is important to note that Business of the House last week when the Bill was presented and when the motion to do with the Budget came up last week, the substantive Minister of Finance was absent and in his absence, the House agreed for the Chairpersons of Committees to do presentations of their reports in their fellow Committees. Then there was a mutual agreement amongst us and I remember there was the Leader of the House and in the Acting capacity for the Chief Whip was Hon. T. Moyo, myself and Hon. Tekeshe. We agreed that when we move to the next phase on Thursday, the Hon. Minister of Finance will be back in the country and will listen to the processes of the Budget. Unfortunately, on that Thursday, the Hon. Minister did not come and with the indulgence of the Chief Whips, we agreed for the debate of Chairpersons to be completed regardless of his absence bearing in mind the mutual understanding that this coming week, the Hon. Minister of Finance today will be available to hear the debates as they move. Unfortunately, the Hon. Minister of Finance is not here today. We see the Deputy Minister. In that debate last week, it was debated that the Hon. Deputy Minister does not sit in Cabinet and there was supposed to be an Acting Minister of Finance of which that Acting Minister of Finance has not been pronounced to the House. With your indulgence Mr. Speaker, please note that there was the agreement that the Hon. Minister of Finance will be here today and he is not here. Presumably, he was supposed to be here from last week Thursday. Now we are going back to this debate and the Minister is not here and there is no explanation. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
An Hon. Member having stood up on a point of order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Just a minute, I have not responded. I want to hear clarity of facts and I want to be clear. Did the House complete the debate on the submitted reports by the Committee Chairpersons?
HON. T. MOYO: Mr. Speaker, the Chairpersons, after completing their reports, we were expecting Hon. Members to also come in and debate and they did not debate. They were not accorded that opportunity on the basis that the Leader of the House who was there last week, after consultation said the debate was going to proceed when the Hon. Minister of Finance is around. That was the agreement which was done and the Hon. Minister of Justice agreed to that.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You were supposed to be debating as from today!
HON. T. MOYO: It was supposed to be on Thursday.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Then what happened on Thursday? You are not telling me the full story. You were the Acting Chief Whip! Can you proceed?
HON. T. MOYO: Yes and I want to appraise you. The Hon. Minister of Finance was expected to be in the House last Thursday and he did not come. The debate could not proceed because Hon. Members on your left requested that the debate could not proceed without the presence of the Minister of Finance.
THE HON. SPEAKER: What was the response from the Deputy Minister about the absence of the Minister?
HON. T. MOYO: He was there to present. He said the Minister was not there but he was ready to respond.
THE HON. SPEAKER: No. When would the Minister be available? That was the question at that time.
HON. T. MOYO: I did not ask him that question. Maybe he can respond.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, you heard what transpired, you were there. Did you engage the Hon. Minister Prof. Ncube about the impasse?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIDUWA): Thank you so much. I managed to engage the Hon. Minister and the current update that I have is, the Hon. Minister is coming back in the country on Thursday and is likely to arrive in the afternoon, which may mean that it may not be well – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can I hear the Hon. Deputy Minister please! Hon. Biti, can I hear please?
HON. CHIDUWA: Yaah, which may mean that I think he will be able to join us a bit late but he is arriving on Thursday. I think he will be able to join us a bit late in the afternoon.
THE HON. SPEAKER: In the afternoon, in time for the House sitting? It must be clear.
HON. CHIDUWA: Yes, from the information that I got, he is arriving in the afternoon on Thursday but in terms of the time, I did not get the time.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Okay Hon. Deputy Minister, I am sure you are aware of the Standing Rules and their requirements. What I would have thought was for you to emphasize that the House had to adjourn in anticipation of the Hon. Minister being in the House today. Did he get that message?
HON. CHIDUWA: Yes, Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Then what happened? He is not here today.
HON. CHIDUWA: That is the position that is there. -[HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection]-
THE HON. SPEAKER: You do not comment. You seek leave to make some clarification. Yes, he will have his bite.
HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker, if you remember we had a supplementary budget which is a budget as well, which was presented by him and we had no problems. Secondly, our Standing Rules define a Minister as Minister/Deputy Minister, so my worry is, are we going to stop business because there is somebody who is away but we have done the same business with the Deputy Minister?
THE HON. SPEAKER: I thought you were coming up with a different issue in terms of clarification.
The Hon. Leader of Government business.
- [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members! Hon. Members, the debate can take place and when it comes to debate on the Committee of Supply, that is when the Hon. Minister himself can come in. There are other members who would like to debate following the reports of the Committees and after that, we will see how we can proceed.
Meanwhile, I have asked the Deputy Minister to get in touch with the Minister so that he should be available tomorrow evening and we can do the Committee of Supply on Thursday. If we do not finish, we carry on on Friday. There are members who would like to debate so I am advised – [AN HON. MEMBER: We had an agreement-] – You did not conclude the debate on the Committee reports because there are members who would like to debate now – [HON. BITI: That is not what we agreed-] – Not on the Finance Bill, neither getting into Committee of Supply and that is permissible – [HON. GONESE: Mr. Speaker Sir, can you indulge me.] –
Do not close out those who want to debate – [HON. GONESE: No, it is not the issue. If you could hear me out Mr. Speaker?] – You want to overrule me? –[HON. GONESE: No, I am not overruling you Mr. Speaker and that is why I am begging your indulgence because I want to put firstly the contextual background and also the nature of the discussions which took place last week and the consensus which was reached, including …] – I have been briefed already by Hon. Mutseyami. He made the summary. – [HON. GONESE: No, it is not just about Hon. Mutseyami because there was an impasse last week. That is one other thing which …] – I am unravelling the impasse, right.
The debate continues on the Committee reports. Hon. Member, can you take your seat. – HON. GONESE: I seek your indulgence. This has to be placed on record Mr. Speaker.] – Can you take your seat? We are not doing the Finance Bill. We are continuing with debate on Committee reports – [HON. GONESE: The need to seek leave to bring in a Finance Bill where that understanding which I am about to articulate was reached. It was not in relation to the Finance Bill. Mr. Speaker, last week on Wednesday the House adjourned around 4 p.m.] – Hon. Member I have heard the Chief Whip. Can you sit down please – [HON. GONESE: Yes, but as a member I also have got my individual rights and it is …] – I have heard the summary of what transpired, can you please sit down – [HON. GONESE: I will sit down but I believe that as a Presiding Officer, it is also important to hear me.] - Can you please sit down! – [HON. GONESE: I intend to sit down but I also seek your indulgence to articulate what I believe may not have been communicated.] – Can I decree? The indulgence is denied. Thank you.
HON. MUNETSI: I stand to raise certain facts connected to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism from the report that we gave in the House. I have quite a lot that I want the Ministry to consider, especially after having been allocated just very little from the bid that the Ministry wanted. Our Ministry of Environment had asked for $64, 2 billion from Treasury and it was only allocated $13, 9 billion, which if you calculated, is within the 20% range. I also got confused how this Ministry is going to run by a 20% from the bid that it had submitted.
I went through to find out what exactly we want the Ministry of Environment to do. I discovered there is a lot that the Ministry of Environment must do. I also discovered that the Ministry of Environment is a key Ministry in the country. It is the supermarket of any country. If you do not treat the environment well, it means everything else that comes after will be in shambles. For example, if the environment is not clean, the result is seen in hospitals; a lot of diarrhoea and some diseases spread across.
Now, we put more money suppose in the Ministry of Health so that we cure a mistake in the Ministry of Environment. My argument is if we treat the Ministry of Environment well and give him more money, that will help to reduce other budgets – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. BITI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. This exercise is pointless – the Minister must be here in terms of Section 7 of the Public Finance Management Act. The Budget is the sole responsibility of the Minister of Finance who is identified as an individual. There are three pillars that run the country’s finance in terms of the Public Finance Management Act – the first one is Treasury, which is the Minister; the second one is the Paymaster-General, who is the Secretary to Treasury. The third one is the Accountant-General. Those are the three tripods of the Ministry of Finance. My submission is that the Minister must be here –uMthuli must be here kathesi, namuhla...
THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you respond to the debate. You are making a general statement.
HON. BITI: I am submitting that there is no point in him continuing the debate in the absence of the Minister. That is why we have the agreement made with the esteemed Leader of the House Hon. Minister of Justice, Hon. Ziyambi, that we debate on Thursday when the Minister is around. We debate on Thursday and sleep here. If we do not finish, we come back on Friday. If we do not finish on Friday, we come back on Tuesday.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I have given him the right to speak –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. BITI: My point of order is, can the Hon. Member speak to reports of Committees.
THE HON. SPEAKER: That is better. Thank you.
HON. BITI: We are ad idem now. Thank you.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, can you be so directed. Speak to the Committee reports that were presented last week.
HON. MUNETSI: I am speaking to the report that was presented here in Parliament and I am making submissions so that we can get more funding from Treasury. That is what I want to debate – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member, you do not respond to the heckling. You address the Chair. Can you proceed –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. MUNETSI: But they are disturbing me Hon. Speaker –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – How can I proceed?
THE HON. SPEAKER: You may also speak to the Hon. Minister’s statement that he made – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order Hon. Member, if you want to contribute please do so. I am just extending. You can debate on reports presented – certain angles. You can also debate on the Minister’s statement that he presented to the House.
HON. MUNETSI: I will start off with what is in the report that we need more funding too. There are certain key areas within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism which we felt were left out in the report but they factor in during the proceeds of the Committee and the Ministry’s work. The Ministry of Environment, like I said, is key to anything in the country. I would like to analyse the bid for Policy and Administration Programme which was 5.2 billion – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, I have something to say on that- the allocation was only 3 billion. As a Committee, we discovered that Treasury gave us too little, certain issues will not be addressed because the money will be too little. We want to recommend that strategic policy planning, monitoring and evaluation of programmes within the Ministry under the Policy and Administration Programme will not have enough money to be tackled because what has been allocated is too little.
HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order, I think Hon. Members must understand that the Minister allocated what he had. For you to keep on saying he must add more and yet he is saying this is what he has does not make any sense. The way forward is to suggest domestic resource mobilisation where he can get the money from. The budget was only 4.5 trillion dollars which the Minister said he has hence he allocated that accordingly. From where should he allocate more? We need to be very clear on that or else it will not make sense because everyone who stands up is going to say he must give more but the budget is only 4.5 trillion. This becomes a useless debate to be honest with you. How then can he get more money? This is where the emphasis should be.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Correct, that is why I said the Hon. Member can address himself to the Minister’s statement in a similar manner as what Hon. Mliswa has said – where else can the Minister get the money from because he is constricted? That is why he gave us that budget of ZWL4.5 trillion.
HON. MUNETSI: Hon. Speaker, are you saying –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I want to get clarification –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I want to get clarification from the Speaker. You are not the Speaker. He will direct me....
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I have warned you, do not address Members opposite you. Address the Chair.
I am checking here in the Hansard – what you are stating was stated already. As Hon. Mliswa has said, how can the Hon. Minister get more funds so that what is being raised by the committees of certain Votes that are underfunded – you can get money from?
HON. MUNETSI: I hear you Hon. Speaker but I want to get clarification – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Then there will be no reason for debate, because if we feel…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon Member, if you have nothing to say, please take your seat.
HON. MUNETSI: Can you hear my point?
THE HON. SPEAEKER: How else can the Hon. Minister of Finance get resources to meet what the Committee Chairpersons reported to as underfunding, that is what we would like to hear in the debate.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to debate on the statement that was presented by the Minister as well as the reports by the Chairpersons of Committees.
As I look into the issue of education, I considered the funding that was availed to education by the Minister but I noticed that next year there is going to be free education, as was announced but when I look at the $1, 9 billion that was allocated towards BEAM, I see that as being very little and insufficient for us to roll-out the free education policy.
In my opinion, the Minister’s Statement was supposed to be focused or considering the policy that is in place that beginning 2023 January there will be free education but his Statement allocated very insufficient funds towards the programme. Does this mean we are going to have free education as we had planned?
Mr. Speaker Sir, my suggestion is that the money that was availed to the Ministry of Education - we have new resettlement areas whose schools need to be well built; they do not have enough resources especially for teachers to use. In allocating the funds, since the Minister is unable to stretch the budget, on the allocated funds there should be some alignment to our aspirations so that the Ministry of Education can operate well. I think that is the major issue that I considered.
However, I also considered the issue of environment that was mentioned by one of the Hon. Members here. I concur with him on the issue that all the challenges that we face are because of the way we manage our environment as we strive towards the development of our economy, be it livelihoods or building the nation, we should be allocating resources in line with protecting our environment such as climate change looking at what we are doing as a country in order to manage our environment which will ensure that we do not face climate induced disasters.
I also considered those who deal with meteorological services, they said that currently in Zimbabwe we have challenges that we will experience about five cyclones, so if that funding does not go towards climate induced disaster preparedness then the cyclones will affect us badly. I am looking forward that as the Minister does his work, he should also consider the topical issues that we meet on a daily basis in the running of the ministries.
*HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of order! The Hon. Member debating is repeating what was said by the Committee Chairpersons. He is talking about utilisation of funds instead of resource mobilisation. So my request is that he looks into the issue of domestic resource mobilisation for the Minister to increase the budget allocation.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Hon. Speaker, give them the opportunity to debate. If they are waiting for the Minister, what are they doing in this august House? – [HON. BITI: Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Speaker, this man in white robes is giving me problems. Mr. Speaker, are you allowing these people to disrupt…
HON. GONESE: On a point of order! The point of order which I am raising relates to the remarks by the Hon. Government Chief whip to the effect that this man in white robes referring and pointing to Hon. Biti. I believe that is unparliamentary. All Hon. Members in this august House are entitled to be referred to as Hon. Members. If there is any reservation on what Hon. Biti might have said, then the Government Chief Whip should have stood up for indulgence.
*HON. TOGAREPI: It is Hon. Biti who had said to me, “this man”. I withdraw. Mr. Speaker Sir, if I am to consider the statement by the Minister of Finance, it reflects that the money that we get to allocate to different Ministries is very little because the Minister does not have multiple revenue collection measures. When we look at Zimbabwe, there are businesses that are in operation that are not paying tax or revenue and the Minister is not considering these in his statements. If you go to Mbare at a place called Magaba, you will find sacks and sacks of money and that money does not find its way into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. So, the Minister needs to come up with measures together with his Ministry, to find ways of ensuring that everyone in Zimbabwe has a culture of paying taxes.
People in Zimbabwe are very rich because they have a lot of billions in their bank accounts and there are people like Hon. Biti who drive expensive cars yet they do not pay their taxes.
HON. BITI: On a point of Order Mr. Speaker. My point of order is that the esteemed Chief Whip from the Government side, since morning, has just been after my case. So, I am wondering what is the motive. I do not know why he is dreaming about me. I am so ugly and I do not know why he is dreaming about me. The whole day it is Biti, Biti, Biti. I need protection.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Where did you meet this morning?
*HON. TOGAREPI: I only mentioned Hon. Biti’s name as a person I normally joke with. I do not have any other issues with him. I just used his name as an example, as someone whom I am facing as I stand here. There are many people here in Zimbabwe who are wealthy but are not paying taxes that can contribute to the revenue. The Ministry of Finance should sit down and consider some of these measures to collect revenue to ensure that roads are rehabilitated and health centres are well furnished and resources are available. What I was saying is that we have so much wealth and for some, we know where their wealth is coming from. My question is, are these people paying taxes in line with the wealth that they have? The Minister should consider this to ensure that our country is able to get revenue.
Our economy is predominantly informal, which means our economy is more in the informal sector than in the formal sector but we realise that the Minister seems to be targeting those in the formal sector. There are more people in the informal sector who have more money than those in the formal sector. Government does not have industries and that is the only way that it can get tax. Everyone should be cultured in such a way that they contribute by way of paying tax.
It is my hope that if the Minister has any other funds that he has put aside which he normally refers to as the back-pocket, I feel the back pocket should go towards BEAM so that we can be sure that when we get to January 2023, there will be free education, meaning Government will be paying fees. If the back pocket is released, then road rehabilitation will take place.
There is another issue of freedom fighters and considering the statement made by the Minister of Finance, Government embarked on a vetting exercise of categories of freedom fighters. We did not see in his statement where this will be done and also how much money is allocated to that programme to enable them to get their money. So I think the back pocket should also be used to fund the veterans of the liberation struggle so that they can receive a decent living. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. Mine is more or less an analysis of the 2023 National Budget which was presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Prof. Ncube on 24 November 2022. The National Budget has a total Z$4.5 trillion, which is ZW$5.6 billion using the parallel market of ZW$800 and ZW$6.9 billion using the official exchange rate of ZW$640.00. This was against a national anticipation of ZW$9 billion National Budget if Zimbabwe is to attain an upper middle class economy by 2030. An evaluation of the 2023 National Budget shows public policy politics on how wholesome populist policies have undermined optimum resource distribution according to national challenges. As Government tradition, the security sector has been given a huge allocation but despite that, Zimbabwe has experienced both negative and positive peace.
It is rather worrying that the number of war veterans continue to increase from 34 000 in 1997 to 142 000 in 2022. The Government was supposed to have dealt with these 34 000 who deserve to be given what belongs to them but how does this number increase to 142 000 in 2022? There was a great difference and clearly why we are trying to show that the budget is for everyone, this figure needs to be interrogated further. It has the highest level of corruption, misinformation and criminal in nature that there is no way war veterans can increase on 34 000 to 142 000 in 2022. Despite that increase, what boggles my mind is that 142 000 war veterans have been given ZW$46 billion, which is USD57.5 million, 1% of the total budget while Social Protection has been given ZW$50 billion, which is about USD63 million, 1.12% of the total budget.
So what we are looking at is that because of corruption and criminal activities, certain monies meant for real issues have been taken out and we continue to fight corruption to no gain. This is despite the fact that the Zimbabwe Social Protection Unit is in a dire situation of 3.8 million rural people facing food starvation and 1.6 million urban starvations. There are 4.6 million children living in severe acute malnutrition and 4.8 million in need of Basic Education Module known as BEAM. Therefore, if one is to take into account these allocations, it is to argue that the budget is not inclusive and it disregards the plight of the marginalised and vulnerable citizens.
It is supposed to be a pro-poor budget and these figures do not talk to a pro-poor budget. It also misses international benchmarks and commitments. Zimbabwe does not work in isolation and we are bound by the various treaties that we sign. To this end, the 2023 National Budget analysis seeks to present a review of the politics of public resources and how it undermines national growth and development. The economic outlook and the massive dollar depreciation experienced for most of the 2022 budget is largely to blame for incessant inflationary pressures that eroded the new value of local currency earnings. This widened income inequality gaps and plug the majority of population into poverty with World Bank statistics showing that 40% are trapped in extreme poverty.
Mr. Speaker Sir, between January and November 2022, the Zimbabwe dollar lost at least 75% of its value in the black market leading to an unbearable monthly inflation averaging 12% per month unprecedented with inflation and nothing was being done to address this so that there is disposable income which makes people live. Basic needs cannot be purchased as a result of this inflation. The Government did nothing and had no mitigating measures to deal with that, which is cause for concern. That is the reason why the poverty percent has risen to 40%.
The cost of electricity substitutes such as fuel and gas ballooned due to an impasse of the Russia/Ukraine war. You cannot at all talk about the economy without factoring in the Russia/Ukraine war. The sanctions and the counter sanction between Russia and the West continue to constrain global trade and cooperation. Resultantly, global food and energy price inflation raised havoc and that is subverting economic activity. In light of this, Treasury downgraded its 2022 growth projection to 4% from the 4.6 stated in the 2022 Mid-Term Fiscal Review.
The authorities expect national output which is GDP growth to moderate further in 2023, registering a 3.8% growth which is however lower than the 5% target as per publicly shared National Development Strategy 1. It would not be proper for us not to refer to NDS 1 as these are the documents that guide us in terms of economic growth. The realisation of this growth is hinged on the assumptions of favourable rainfall patterns and global mineral prices, a stable ZW$ power supply, tight monetary policy and continued use of multi-currency.
As such, authorities expect inflation to average 1% to 3% in 2023 owing to sustainable fiscal deficit expected of 1.5% of the GDP. However, after considering the risk to the economic outreach, the public concludes in a way that the Government will likely miss these targets. Public opinion is important especially when disposal income and inflation is there. In that aspect, Government has got to respond to the public by coming up with a budget which will give them confidence and comfort at the end of the day. It is all about confidence at the end of the day and this budget once again does not give confidence to the public.
There is a possibility of a continuation of ZW$ deterioration with sky rocketing prices in 2023 driven by excessive fiscal spending fuelled by upcoming general elections. When there are general elections, naturally the economy is a bit shaky and all roads lead to elections. The politicians who are some of the Ministers now focus on elections rather than the economy. Statistics show that the proposed ZW$4.5 trillion 2023 budget is 13.7% higher than the projected ZW$1.9 trillion for 2022. Inflation has spoken and also leakages of public funds from corruption and illicit transactions will escalate in 2023 as politicians seek for re-election at all costs. When politicians are going for elections, they forget everything and all they want is to be in power and corruption is rampant and again the law is not respected. You expect law and order to prevail, the respect of human rights is also critical but it is ignored at the time.
So it is critical that corruption and illicit transactions have caused quite a lot. If they could be plugged, there would be more money for the Minister to now use for us to grow our economy but there is not much being done. You will even see with the budget which is allocated to Anti-Corruption agencies which is not much. Money which is supposed to go to the Auditor-General’s Office in terms of the audit is not much. It seems that there is a deliberate measure by those who are corrupt, which is a cartel not to give money to agencies which will arrest corruption, plug the holes, money comes through and then we are able to actually thrive from it.
This is an issue which we believe as the African Parliamentary Networks against Corruption, that corruption indeed robs us all and this is a clear example that the ordinary person who is innocent and who is supposed to be surviving through Government growth suffers. Although the Hwange Thermal Expansion Project was installed, capacity of 600 mega watts is progressing well and the public expects erratic electricity supply to persist in the first half of the year. The main threat is the dwindling Kariba Dam levels and the frequent breakdowns at existing ongoing thermal power stations. As you know Mr. Speaker Sir, some of the thermal power stations have been deemed useless - as a result, while we are increasing with 600 megawatts; there are also some that are not functioning, meaning we are again in the red. So really, the installed capacity that is supposed to be 600 megawatts means nothing at the end of the day but there is a loss in terms of business.
While our citizens have been good, in any other country, ZESA would be sued by companies because they do guarantee power to businesses and to homes but fortunately, they have a country that is kind but any other country they would be sued on this and that is the reason why we do not understand. You pay for electricity and you do not get it; you pay for water and you do not get water. So to me, there is also that lack of confidence in the people of Zimbabwe because when they pay for a service, they do not get it. So how can they continue paying for the service?
The main threat again Mr. Speaker Sir and the uncertainties of this world especially the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war will likely exert massive pressure on global inflation thereby affecting perennial importers like Zimbabwe. This is the reason why Mr. Speaker Sir, we were supposed to grow our industry so that we do not then rely on anybody. We have the resources across many others, if we do not we have the minerals to be able to get industry moving and so forth.
The rainfall pattern was not what we expected and now the harvest is low; the producer price for the farmer is low. So the farmers have quietly done a protest to say, we are not growing maize this year because they want to pay more for imported maize than for what the farmers grow. So, what is the point of the land reform? The land reform was to empower people, to feed their nation but the Government seems to be bent on feeding other farmers more money than the local farmers which is unprecedented. You ask them why and not only that, the maize itself is GMO. It has got repercussions in terms of diseases and all that. So to me, why would they do that?
Moving forward Mr. Speaker Sir, we cannot talk about this budget without an analysis of the budget allocation versus international benchmarks. These are the percentages of international benchmarks that we have in the education sector, 20% declaration of 2000, we did 16.5% - we always fall short of this, which really makes it very difficult for us to be respected as a country.
We then go to healthcare, Abuja Declaration of 2001, it is 15%, we are still on 13%; we will also go to the African Union Water Supply and Sanitation Declaration of 2008, we are on 0% yet it is on 1.5%. Then we go to transport and infrastructure, the AU Declaration of 2000…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Order Hon. Member. In your own wisdom, you indicated that the debate must focus on how the budget can be made more elastic in order to meet some of the shortfalls in the budgetary allocation. I think, you need not to contradict yourself in that regard. You may proceed.
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Speaker Sir, if I am not mistaken, when I raised that issue, you also said to Hon. Munetsi that you can also talk about the Ministers and I am focusing on the Minister’s statement. I have decided to focus on the Minister’s Statement and I do not know if that is in order.
THE HON. SPEAKER: As far as we want the budget to be more stout, what can we do so that when the Hon. Minister comes back to this Hon. House for supplementary budget then the ideas will be incorporated accordingly to meet the shortfalls of the presented National Budget.
HON. T. MLISWA: I totally agree Mr. Speaker Sir, that is why I also thought that we are not an island or in isolation. We also work with international benchmarks that we are a signatory to and I also want to know why we are not complying with all this. I think the Minister has to make sure of that because as a nation, we lose credibility and I think he has an unallocated budget as well which I am basically saying we should also be adhering to these international benchmarks that are set for us, which we are also part of. When you do well, they also give you more.
THE HON. SPEAKER: True. How do we create wealth to achieve that and that is the point of the debate?
HON. T. MLISWA: My point here is compliance as compliance also attracts more money…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Please proceed.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you. So the transport and infrastructure AU Declaration is on 9.6% and we are on 7.1%; the social protection which is the social policy for Africa 2008 is on 4.5% and we are on 2.5% and then Mr. Speaker Sir, Agriculture the Maputo Declaration of 2003 is 10% and I think we have done well in agriculture I must say, and we are on 11% which is quite good.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I think the National Budget is commended for surpassing the 1.5 declaration on water and sanitation by allocating $142 billion which constitutes 3% of the total budget. However, Zimbabwe continues to fall off the international benchmarks with respect to health and education.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to zero in on the aspect of the social protection which I think is critical in terms of the pro-poor. I commend the efforts undertaken by the Government to fight poverty in Zimbabwe, in Africa at large as it is on an upward trend. This has been exacerbated by the adverse impacts on COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the soaring death levels.
Mr. Speaker Sir, climate change is critical. We have had COP27 and even at portfolio committees and Parliament being part of that, coming in to give reports but we seem not to again have done much on that. There was a drought and we expected cloud seeding to happen but it did not happen. If we had taken such measures, there would not be this drought which then affected the crops at the end of the day. Up to now, there is no explanation on how we are going to deal with a situation where there is also a drought. The cloud seeding aspect, the climate changes, we seem not to be in line with it. This again is important Mr. Speaker Sir so that we attend to the necessary strategic goals as well.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to zero in on the aspect of health which I think the healthcare provision and health infrastructure is in a deplorable state with over 80% of the health budget going to recurrent expenditure and the balance being capital expenditure. This raises obvious questions around the sincerity of the Government’s commitment to improve health sector outcomes and it continues to set aside limited funds for public healthcare every year. The Government has allocated $475. 7 billion which is 10.5% of the budget to the health and childcare from 2010 to date, the budget vote towards the health and well-being has never met the prescribed 15% Abuja Declaration. As a result, the status of health facilities at both central and local Government level is undesirable as characterised by major inequalities in terms of access …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, Hon. Member, you have three minutes.
HON. T. MLISWA: Lack of basic medical support, depleted infrastructure, women failing to get quality maternal health services which is adversely impacting on child mortality rate and maternal deaths; motivated workforce and lack of critical equipment amongst other factors.
Mr. Speaker Sir, you will see that most of the health professions have left the country. The country is operating with less than 300 functional ambulances from this end; health policies inclusive of the National Health Strategy (NHS2025) clearly lack financing and implementation and alignment with the national and regional health agreement like other public services. Healthcare is also constrained by undertaking efficient management of public resources. To improve health care delivery, the 15% Abuja Declaration has not only been met but surpassed and this should be coupled with reasonable remuneration of healthcare workers in order to retain critical expertise and prudent management of resources. Mr. Speaker Sir, a lot of money is used by Government to educate these people but it does not make sense when you do not have enough money to remunerate them so that they can continue doing their work. As a result, they have got to be well remunerated and Treasury must facilitate systematic allocation and timeous imbursement of allocated resources for the health sector.
Education: the current globalisation technological advancement era only comes with a developed human capital so that we enjoy increased competitive advantage. On the contrary, the Zimbabwe human capital development continues on a downward trend mainly due to tightening micro-economic situation resulting in high education cost. Limited funding for expansion on learning infrastructure, student grants, research and development, the budget only allocated money for salaries and no capital. Basically, you are churning out these teachers and they are teaching in facilities and places where there are no schools. That does not make sense.
There has got to be an alignment of the teachers that you are churning out and they must be well accommodated. The schools must be there so that it becomes a pleasure to teach and not a way of people being poor. To me, in light of this, the 2023 Budget has allocated 14% of the Budget, ZWL631.3 billion to Primary and Secondary Education. Like I have said, to provide quality infant junior and secondary education with the bulk of the allocation going towards payment of salaries for teachers and all that.
Teachers’ colleges as well have been affected a lot in terms of how they operate. I am a farmer and if you look at the agronomists coming from universities, they do not know anything. They do not know a tractor and they do not know even how to work in a workshop because these machines are not in these facilities. It is important to know that if we are going to be really serious about this, they should be given the necessary equipment so that they are in tandem with what is going on. These are paltry budgetary allocations. We need to do much more to improve education service delivery as the situation is currently dire.
For Primary and Secondary Education, it is critical to know that the share of extremely poor children in the rural areas with access to mobile learning remain severely constrained. The rural area is a different country...
HON. BITI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Hon. Member’s time be extended by 10 minutes. I thank you very much.
THE HON. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member’s time has been extended with 10 minutes.
HON. T. MLISWA: Hon. Members, I want to thank you. It takes a lot to sit and research and produce all this work. I really want to thank you for giving me that time.
Mr. Speaker Sir, let me move to debt. The 2023 statement of public debt released along the proposed budget revealed that the total publicly guaranteed which is PPG debt as at end of September 2022 stood at ZWL10.97 trillion which is equivalent to USD17.6 billion, 477% and 22.3% uptake in Zimbabwe Dollar and USD terms. Respectively from 1.9 trillion to USD17.2 billion recorded at the end of December 2021. The total PPG comprises of external debt stock of ZWL8.7 trillion, equivalent to USD13.99 billion with about ZWL3.9 trillion which is 45% being arrears and penalties. Statistics show that domestic debt statement, the astronomical increase in debt stock in ZWL reflects exchange rate deterioration while 2.3% USD growth rate of debt accounts for new dispensary for ongoing projects Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe borrowing and continuous accumulation on penalties.
The story here is that why do we continue to borrow and we cannot pay? The money we pay for penalties is more or less the same with what we borrow. It is now getting to that level, you borrow and you do not pay. Why are we not able to borrow when we have got a number of foreign direct investments coming in? We have got a number of minerals coming in. If there is anything, Zimbabwe must borrow people money because of the resources that we have. All the Chinese that we see with Manhize and so forth, a multibillion dollar project, where does it fit in ensuring that the welfare of the people improve? The platinum mines, where are they in making sure that they contribute to this? There is no point should Zimbabwe borrow if there is anything with the domestic resources which we have, we must have enough money and this is why domestic resource mobilisation is quite critical. This is something that we are living for generations to come. Instead of living them a country which is full of milk and honey, we are now living the country which is full of bees which do not make honey and cattle which do not make milk but bees which will sting them.
I think it is important that we really look at this and deal with this debt. Without us dealing with this debt, at the end of the day, no matter how hard you work, even in business, your profit is what matters, but it is clear that there is no profit. We are not adhering to this but we continue to borrow. We thought we are all weather friends with the Chinese but it is clear that they are gaining at the end of the day. The debt areas show that Zimbabwe is trapped in debt, distressed and struggling to settle obligation when they fall due. Despite this, the appetite for borrowing by authorities continues to persist. Despite this, there is no discipline from the authorities to stop borrowing. They continue to borrow more money because it is clear that they are also putting their own percentage there so that they can make money. With corruption which is there, you cannot write that one off.
For instance, the debt stock is set to jump in 2023 as Treasury faces a mammoth task of financing a proposed ZWL575 billion Zimbabwean dollar budget to cover the overall deficit of ZWL336.9 billion and net loan repayment of 248.6 billion. The tabled proposal to finance the gap by issuing a domestic 100 million bond and a 400 million loan facility from AfriExim Bank, ZWL10 billion changes in bank balances and 8.2 billion Zimbabwean dollars in Treasury Bills. This lays bare the dire impasse of higher indebtedness as Treasury has elected to spend more tax payers’ money on debt servicing in 2023 than resources it has allocated to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare – A paltry 50.4 billion for the provisions of that.
If you read that, taxpayer’s money is going into settling debt. Instead of taxpayer’s money going into showing that the economy grows and so forth. To me it is important. Tax regime, since the embrace of austerity measures in October 2018, the successive national budgets passed as legislation to date have constantly pursued anti-poor tax policies. The current year’s budget was passed by Parliament despite it being decorated by primitive regressive taxes, for instance, the budget introduced new additional taxes like USD50 cellphone tax, while maintaining now the unpopular 2% tax – a tax which greatly suppresses the budget of poor households. Generally, the poor spend most of their income on current consumption when compared with their rich counterparts. Also the 2022 tax brackets failed to bring adequate relief to the working class anywhere below the poverty datum line. The poverty datum line has gone up to $500. Members of Parliament are being paid $150, so we are not even there. What about the ordinary person at the end of the day? That is the reason why Zimbabweans need to understand that Members of Parliament are equally impoverished at the end of the day. They are also part of the 40% of people who are poor. We are putting more money in terms of getting constituencies going. We were not given fuel allowances and all that. So, we have suffered and in suffering, it does not mean that we are not pushing the agenda. This Parliament pushed $900 000 tax free for the people of this country, which we thought would cushion them.
Let me conclude by saying that the 2023 National Budget undermines people’s aspirations and disregards the ambitions of benchmarks of National Development Strategy 1. The budget missed all international commitments except for Water and Sanitation which satisfied 1.5 eThekwini Declaration of 2008. This shows government’s sincerity in addressing the plight of the citizens and also the pro-poor budget we spoke about. Like in previous budgets, the 2023 National Budget prioritises the security sector over service delivery; a clear indication of the manifestation of the politics of public resources rather than ample feasibility study into resource allocations. Although Government has introduced numerous tax reforms, there is need to ensure that prior to the introduction of these reforms, citizens are consulted. It is critical to note that the negative coalition between people’s aspirations and the presented budget emanates from public hearings and consultation forums which Parliament undertook in October. This should serve as a lesson that all inclusive consultative forums come late into a people centered budget. To this end, the budget theme does not capture the reality on the ground and presentation made by the Minister of Finance ‘Accelerating Economic Transformation’. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
+HON. NCUBE: Thank you Hon. Speaker for affording me the opportunity. I also recognise that I am the first female to contribute. My contribution will dwell much on the contribution made by the Minister of Finance. Pertaining to the budget allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development and the Committee on Lands and Agriculture following the budget allocation to this Ministry, I was expecting that there was a budget set for water. We can have land without water but we cannot utilise the land. You can speak of agriculture but without water, you cannot do anything. You can speak of fisheries but without water also nothing can be done.
If we look at rural development, it is the mainstay but without water, there is no development that can be done. I was expecting that water would be given the first priority because without water, there is no development that can happen in any country. I want water to be given the first priority in the budget. This can include the construction of new dams and the drilling of boreholes. It can be even other ways of collecting water from rivers to portable sources where it can be stored for future use. Most of the times our dams run dry before the end of the dry season. This is because we do not have enough water collected in these dams. I also noted that the Ministry of Finance should increase the budget in order to attend to the water crisis. We are all here and alive because we have water. We cannot live without water. Everything that lives survives on water. The Ministry should also look into ways that can be introduced in order to harvest more water. If we have enough water, we could solve problems in other ministries. With enough water, we can practice agriculture effectively.
Most rural districts in our country survive on farming. This is the backbone of their economy. Without water, livestock cannot survive and plants also. We are faced with climate change and we no longer receive enough rainfall as we used to. This has increased the chances of drought in rural areas. This can however be solved by harvesting adequate water. The old aged women in rural areas can practice farming and sell their produce. This will enable them to send their children to school and raise money for other light hospital bills.
The issue of environmental cleanliness cannot be achieved without water. We are appealing to the Minister of Finance to increase the budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development. This increment should specifically be meant for the provision of enough water in the rural areas. Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.
*HON. RAIDZA: Thank you Hon Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on the 2023 budget which was brought into this House by our Hon. Minister of Finance. I have a number of issues which I want to debate on. The first issue is about the budget credibility. This issue needs the Minister of Finance to critically look into. We spend more time in this august House discussing about this issue, putting our views with the hope that the way the money is utilised within the country, things can move properly.
From the research which we have done, we have seen that there are a lot of things which are done after the budget has been passed in this House. When the budget is passed and it is now time for allocation or disbursement of funds from the Ministry of Finance, Government agencies and ministries are expected to receive money from Treasury. Some of the Government departments receive more money compared to what we will have allocated in this House while others are given very little. The issue of allocating money in a way which has not been discussed and passed in this House makes this House lose its credibility. This is an issue which I think the Minister should look into so that the manner in which funds are then disbursed is predictable according to how we will have appropriated funds in this House.
The other issue that I would want to talk about is concerning other funding that was set aside by this House as statutory funds. As Parliament, we receive quarterly reports from ministries. We find that the programmes are in progress in ministries but despite this progress, they still bemoan lack of funding release by Treasury. So as Members of Parliament, we then request for explanations on why there is no progress despite release of funds. That affects our work here as parliamentarians because it seems to be more academic than practice. We want to urge the Minister that for our budget to be credible, what we have agreed in this House should be implemented. The Minister also promised after assuming office that he wanted the fund accounts that are not being utilised in ministries to be consolidated to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The issue is for this House to be apprised on the use of public funds for various projects. This is important if what we are doing in this House is to be taken seriously.
I also want to talk about the BEAM fund. Our President had foresight in that most pupils cannot afford educational fees and pronounced that there will be free basic education for all. If we consider the budget that was presented, it did not satisfy the needs of this programme despite the allocated funds, considering programme based budgeting. We realise that most of the funding will be taken up by civil servants wages in the education sector and very little is left for the implementation of the programme. I have a perspective that was also made by the Committee on Budget which is that for the money that was allocated by the Minister.
On the issue of Value Added Tax that was raised from 14, 5% to 15%, that 0, 5% should be ring-fenced towards the President’s commitment to basic free education because it is every child’s right to be educated. These are things that we can do and are expected to receive support in this august House.
The other issue I want to thank the Minister for is for the funding that he availed to civil servants. We have realised that there is quite a significant allocation made to this cause. We are all aware of the poor remuneration for this group in the past few years. I realise that the Minister of Finance had foresight to improve service delivery by the civil servants who would perform well because of the improved remuneration. I think next year’s budget if passed as it is, our civil servants will be quite happy for such an initiative.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to look at agriculture. The Minister allocated a substantial amount but we do not see the support he is making towards the National Enhanced Agricultural Productive Scheme. What is his position on this? If we consider the issues that he presented on, it reflects that banks like CBZ are facing challenges in repayment of loans by the farmers because the farmers are not selling their grain to the GMB. Most of them are engaged in side marketing. Side marketing is also being caused by quite a number of issues. Mr. Speaker Sir, the price of grain is very little and does not encourage the farmer to continue producing.
So I want to urge the Minister of Finance to have other measures and conduct research on how they can come up with policies to enhance the farmer to continue producing grain. I am saying this because I am aware of the fact that for farmers to be able to access loans from CBZ, the Government signs guarantee forms. If a farmer fails to repay, some of the banks are now requesting the Government to repay the loans because the Government was the guarantor. This is not to say the farmers did not produce. They did produce grain but what pains them is the cost of taking their produce to GMB because the money being offered is very little.
What I am saying Mr. Speaker Sir is that what goes around comes around. If the Minister fails to pay a good price for the grain, he is the one who is now burdened to pay back the loans. If we ensure that the Minister takes care of the pricing system for grain, then the farmers can repay their loans taking the burden off Government. We realise that the last farming season was affected by climate change effects but we meet other farmers who say they have grain but are not encouraged to take their grain to the GMB because of the poor prices Government will end up importing maize and pay more money by not paying a local farmer. By doing so, they will be taking the locals’ jobs away. This should be looked into so that we come up with a solution for the whole country and be able to feed our nation at household level.
Wheat farmers are happy this season because they were paid good prices for their wheat and they can go back and re-invest their money in wheat production. This should also apply to maize growers.
I would like to applaud the Minister on social safety nets. He tried by all means and allocated $50.4 billion for this. Some people in our country struggle to make ends meet and wish that Government should assist them in this regard. There is a Pfumvudza programme which was introduced by the Government and it assists the less privileged who are willing to do farming. Thank you Hon. Minister for this - may he continue allocating more money for safety nets. If we receive enough rains, the Government bill towards this will decrease.
The Minister highlighted that he would like to deduct money on third party insurance and this money will be used to assist accident victims. That is a good idea but this 20% should not be put in the Consolidated Revenue Fund because it will be problematic. Our neighboring countries like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia came up with such funds (Motor Vehicle Accident Funds) (MVA funds). If this 20% goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and I am involved in an accident on my way to Mberengwa – will that money be extracted in that Government fund in order to assist me in this needy time? The idea is alright but the objective is very difficult to be implemented. The Minister should revise this idea and come up with success stories…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MAVETERA): You have five minutes left.
*HON. RAIDZA: When an accident occurs in South Africa, Botswana or Namibia, it will not take time for a helicopter to come to the scene to pick the victims and they are examined by a medical doctor at the scene of the accident. This saves live and that is what we should do in order to save lives. The Minister of Finance should work hand-in-hand with the Minister of Transport and make sure that this fund is set up in order to assist our people instead of putting this money in the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
We have a vision and plan to assist the youth and women in coming up with businesses. We have Women’s Bank, Empower Bank, Women’s Fund, Youth Fund and so on but on the ground, they are not effective. Capital is allocated to these institutes but it is chewed up by inflation. I think there should be only one fund or company that is allocated enough funding in order to empower these groups of people. If we do so, we will end up with a linear structure which is effective. The Minister should consider that we are well capitalised and have one effective organisation.
In conclusion, I will speak on mining. The Bill on mining should be tabled if we are serious with domestic resource mobilisation. This Bill will enable us to transact fruitfully as a country. There is a lot of illicit financial flow in the mining industry. There is need to curb all this because there is an opportunity for us to make a lot of profit as a Government. The Minister should support our ZRP so that they are adequately resourced. ZMDC is the company that does all our minerals marketing but they do not have the capacity to do so. This should be corrected. Some of the minerals even illicitly, flow through Fidelity – we should curb all this so that we have resources that will enable us to develop as a country.
The Ministry of Mines should push the agenda together with the Ministry of Finance with regards to value addition. In Mberengwa, there is a lot of lithium at the moment but a lot of soil is being taken somewhere but no one is accountable. The miners are getting only US$100 but in South Africa, a tonne of lithium costs US$2500.00. There is a wide gap which is being manipulated and we hope that if this Bill is passed in this House, we will improve in terms of the money that we get as a country.
Money should be put in the cadastral system so that we know where we stand as a country in terms of our minerals’ bank. How much do we have as a country so that when we negotiate with other countries in terms of mining chrome or any mineral, we will then know what we have on hand. At the moment, that is not the situation. Still on mining, gold incentive schemes should come because there are a lot of artisanal miners. The artisanal miners should be advised to sell their gold to Fidelity.
Nonetheless, I would like to thank the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for the 10 million which he channeled from the SDR’s to assist artisanal miners in this sector.
The other issue is of the Sovereign Wealth Fund – if the Minister is really serious, this fund should be well financed so that we have a smooth flow. As we speak, our royalties are being paid in kind. Let us then make sure that our Sovereign Fund is very strong.
I would also like to support the issue of Wealth Tax which was mentioned by the Chief Whip as well as in the Budget. Is it not possible that we bring equality among ourselves, for example the more you get the more you pay tax. What is happening in this country - the biggest contributor of our tax is Pay As You Earn. Pay As You Earn means monies that we pay as we work. On our tax revenue, corporate tax should be contributing the biggest chunk but currently as we speak, Pay As You Earn is contributing more. We have people who are evading paying tax, and those who do so are the ones whom we are seeing on the streets flashing their wealth. We always wonder where this money is coming from.
If we introduce Wealth Tax, we should make sure that people enjoy the services that they get. What is happening nowadays in our country is not good; people are no longer bothered about their surroundings as long as one has a big house, a borehole and a big car. Why can we not say the more money we make, the more tax contribution we pay for services? Depending on where one stays, they should contribute more towards the services being offered. This is what they do even at local authorities; rates are not the same for those staying in the low density suburbs and those in the high density suburbs, so the same should apply with electricity billing. The Minister should put this into consideration that those staying in affluent suburbs should contribute more as compared to low income households.
Lastly, I will talk about State owned enterprises; I did not hear the Minister talk about this. However, I want to encourage ourselves that as we look at domestic resource mobilisation, let us have our parastatals being productive. They should desist from corrupt activities; we have companies like NRZ, TELONE, POSB and NETONE which have the capacity to make money. Most of these people in parastatals are just working for their salaries yet they are supposed to be generating revenue for the good of the country. The Minister of Finance, in 2019, gave a suggestion to say there is going to be privatisation of these institutions but nothing has been implemented so far. We kindly ask him to revisit this issue so that we see which institutions are serious about this. There should not be free lunch in these parastatals.
(v)HON. WATSON: Thank you Madam Speaker. I think that despite one of the recommendations in the Budget and Finance Committee, we should all understand that load shedding and the lack of generation of power is one of the biggest known financial risks to the budget basics and any economic stability. For growth, we require investment, investment requires savings, savings require confidence, and confidence requires stability. If we cannot create a stable environment, we simply will not get the predictions in the revenue.
I would also like to say that insufficient funding to ZIMRA, our revenue collection agency, also hamper domestic resource mobilisation. If ZIMRA cannot be capacitated to collect the revenues, we will simply not get the money and we go back to the circus of non-allocations which were not disbursed particularly across the social ministries.
I would also like to say that the reduction in allocations in real terms on some of the social sector budget is extremely worrying, for example the one for free sanitary pads in schools. This budget was reduced from the equivalent of 11,64 million USD down to 2,32 million USD, which will mean those who have not been given these sanitary pads anywhere are less likely to get them and they will not attend school as a consequence. These trends are very worrying; it is also to re-affirm that per capita USD spending although in 2022, the per capita spending was 71,66 USD and in the 2023 budget, it goes down to 48, 78 USD and that is primarily caused by the deferential in capital funding. Without capital funding, the health system will not improve. We see where we are now; it is dire and yet we are up from 2019 from 4, 18 USD per capita spending up to 71 and now 48. It means that health is severely underfunded in all regards and I would like the Minister to see that the entire social sectors are underfunded in favour of the perennial ministries which overspend. I thank you.
(V)HON. MUSAKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to add my voice on the budget proposals that are before the House. Firstly, I would like to commend the Minister for undertaking to review the transaction taxes both on NOSTRO and the domestic RTGS. These were becoming another tax on corporates and individuals and were working against financial inclusion and the promotion of the use of the banking system. So, I would like to commend you for that and I would like you to do maybe even more. Also to incentivise deposits and savings, for instance. I can give you an example that if somebody wants to save in a NOSTRO account, banks are charging an average of 15 USD per month for account maintenance fees. So if someone saves 100 USD in plus or minus six months, that 100 USD will attract a lot of charges and the owner will realise that the money they would have saved becomes nothing.
So, I would like in this current budget, the Minister to encourage savings and also savings in real currency so that these monies can be used to lend to the productive sector and generate more wealth.
On the same note, I notice there is quite an allocation towards agriculture but you will find that the price for maize is very depressed, even that for wheat is not where it should be. I would like to encourage the Minister to relook at the funding model for grain procurement in that the State focuses on buying the strategic grain reserve and allow private players to finance the procurement of the rest of the crop. That will reduce the burden on the fiscus and also stimulate production and competitive pricing of the commodities.
The underfunding of BEAM and its non-disbursement, a lot has been said about that, I will not repeat any of those. I want to thank you Madam Speaker for the opportunity and thank you very much for allowing me to speak.
(v)HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker for allowing me to also add my voice on this important budget proposal. In 2022, we had a budget of ZW$1.9 trillion in total and for 2023 we have a budget proposal of ZW$4.5 trillion. With these trillion dollars, no one will say this Budget is people centred. With these trillions, surely it means the incapacitation of our citizens, civil servants, Members of Parliament and Zimbabweans in general. Since 2019, I have been saying that the Minister of Finance must simply dollarise. The reality is that people are using the United States dollars and some are using the South African Rand. Even Government itself is using United States dollars, why not simply dollarise and see how our economy will perform?
Secondly, on the theme of the budget of 2023 ‘Accelerating Economic Transformation’, surely having 14 hours a day without electricity, we cannot talk of accelerating economic transformation for 2023. We talk of our students, they have to make sure that they make use of Education 5.0 but there is no way they can talk of innovation as well as industrialisation when there is no electricity. We talk of our industry and the general populace they are heavily affected by power cuts. In Mpopoma today, electricity went off around 5 a.m. and I know for sure electricity will then come back around 11p.m. The Minister of Finance must make sure that he adds some resources. Again, the Minister must simply offer more money to the Ministry of Energy so that they can explore the possibilities of increasing solar energy as an alternative not forgetting Hwange Unit 7 and 8 and Kariba Dam where there is no water. The Minister has to come up with alternative ways to the issue of energy to make sure we achieve our theme of accelerating economic transformation.
On international commitments, I am worried that the 2019 National Budget did not meet the international commitments. The 2020 to 2022 National Budgets again did not meet the international commitments. When we talk about health, we cannot year-in and year-out talk of the 15% Abuja Declaration of 2001. There is nothing in our hospitals. Let us comply with the 15% and see how our health sector will improve. We talk again of education, the Dakar Declaration of 2000 states that we should set aside 20%, but we have 14.2%. Let us just comply. Let us set aside 20% in this 2023 National Budget and then see how our education will improve rather than to hear examination leaks and decreasing literacy rates.
I was having a feedback meeting last week on social protection and citizens were told that BEAM will only be paid for first term in 2023. What it means going into second and third terms in 2023 is that there will be no BEAM unless the citizens were not informed properly. Let us make sure that we increase more funds on social protection so that BEAM will be there for all the three terms in 2023.
In one of my feedback meetings, I heard an 81 year old granny saying she is not getting anything from our current Government. It means we have a lot of people, including the disabled who are not getting anything from the Government. We need to make sure that we give more money to the department of Social Welfare so that they can increase the number which they have under the vulnerable group. There is a social concept for Africa which was adopted in 2008 that clearly states that in our National Budgets we must give 4%. Why can we not comply with these international commitments so that we see how our vulnerable groups will be assisted?
Madam Speaker, I would not close my speech, without talking about water. Since 2018, I have been highlighting this that there are water problems, which is a perennial problem that is affecting Bulawayo and other provinces. We hear these percentages that Gwayi-Shangani is at 40% or 50% but if you go there, it is way down. What it means is the suffering continues again in 2023. Yes, we gave 3% according to the eThekwini Declaration. Why do we not comply by giving more money rather than the 3% because we have been doing nothing since 2018?
On roads, there is AU Declaration of 2009, which was very clear that 9.6% must be allocated to the Ministry of Roads. Why do we not comply rather than to give them a paltry 3.2% that will do nothing? Besides that, the Government adopted even the local roads under ERRP-2 - so let us give them more money so that we avoid these accidents; these dish holes and pot holes which we are seeing in our provinces.
Also Madam Speaker, as a youthful MP, you know that we constitute 50% and there is rampant drug and substance abuse. Surely additional rehabilitation centres have to be there so that they can support those affected. Not only that, we need more of youth empowerment programmes. We also need to upgrade sport facilities and recreational centres. Therefore, more money must be given to the Ministry of Youth.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, the Minister of Finance developed all of that; he can take some funds from the security sector. If you look at the budget, Defence was given 7.3% that is $331 billion. Home Affairs was given $6.5% of the National Budget. So we are failing to comply with service delivery commitment and focus more on security. Why not say from the 7.3%, let us say 5% and distribute it to health, education, social protection, water and then to roads. Then we take the 6.5%, why not take 3% or 4% and distribute this accordingly to service delivery issues rather than allocate money into security sector. That is my proposal Madam Speaker. I thank you.
(v) HON. R. R. NYATHI: Thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am. I would like to add my voice concerning the issue of our National Budget and also add my voice to what other Hon. Members talked about. I am more concerned about what Mr. Speaker said that can we find some sources of revenue that the Minister of Finance is able to extent his purse so that we can cover deficits that are much needed by various Portfolio Committees. I just want to advise that, looking into our economy, I think that there is need to grow our industry or expansion of our industries. Once our industries expand, we then have more revenue.
How do we do that, we expect the Minister to create a situation where banks can create soft loans for industries, those that are going into industry. Once that is done, then we have got a good source of income through taxes that we get from those industries. It is also important for our Ministry of Industry and Commerce, such companies like ZIMCHE, and our diplomats that have been coming from outside the country so that they must also market our products that are here in Zimbabwe in those countries so that we can generate the much needed revenue.
That also is very critical because we are looking at how we can produce our local goods for our local consumption and how we can also produce goods that are for export so that we can get the much needed foreign currency. Our sources of revenue, you know they are through individuals and corporate taxes. They are also through goods and services taxes. We also get as revenue, income tax and corporate tax. Our sources of collection must be well monitored. They must be digitalised. We must close all loopholes because we can never grow the purse of our Ministry of Finance if all those incomes are not well monitored. So there is need to monitor.
I also want to mention what one Hon. Member said that we can also make money without taxes, which is through customs duties. List Government owned land and buildings, you will see that we have got a lot of Government land that is lying idle that can be put into proper use for us to get the much needed revenue so that all these Portfolio Committees that are requiring more money to make sure that the Ministries function well can also be financed through that. We also need to call the sale of natural resources, where we ask Government where we have got Government land, they can plant trees. As we cut the wood, they will also be creating some problem when it comes to issues of degradation and so forth but we can also continue planting those trees and selling abroad.
We can also utilise our natural deposits that is our minerals, to create finance. I want to mention that we can also grow our wealth if we boost the level of capital. I am referring to loans advancement; it means we must ease the production of goods. We have the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development which has come up with a very good innovation, what we call innovation hubs of how we can grow our labour to produce. If our labour force is geared in producing more products, it means that we will have more sources of income and the Government will be having more sources from taxes. So, if our people are economically empowered to start their own industries and to grow industry, then we know it becomes much easier.
In my looking into the Budget, I was thinking that there is need also for relevant ministries to help the Minister of Finance by finding methods of reducing corruption. Hon. Speaker Ma’am, you will notice that if the Minister of Finance allocates a certain sum of money into a given Ministry and that money is not properly looked into and is not put to good use, for example if somebody is capable of stealing $15 million, you are not only looking at the figure but you are looking at the number of households that could have been fed by that $15 million. If you are looking at our Zimbabwean population, we are saying the poor that we have in Zimbabwe, how many dollars do they eat a day? So if we curb corruption, then we can also increase our purse.
I also want to mention that even the Minister can also help these ministries by disbursing the finances that have been allocated to them on time. I am giving an example that if one gives timeous distribution of funds, suppose we say 100% has been allocated but at the end of the year, you will find out that only 20% has been distributed. This means that particular Ministry is unable to meet its key result areas and a lot of things will remain hanging that particular year, so there is need also for our Minister to make sure that he distributes the money on time so that ministries are able to meet their key result areas.
Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I want to add that there is also need for our people to develop an attitude or culture of patriotism so that singularly or severally we can join hands with each other, with one purpose to say let us grow our country and economy. Once we have that attitude, whatever we do whether industry or anything else, all of us will say if I am getting an income, I must be able to retain a certain percentage of tax so that we can keep the wheels of Zimbabwe turning.
Hon. Speaker Ma’am, yes the Minister is budgeting from an anticipation that in 2023, this is the kind of money that we are able to generate as revenue, so it might also be difficult for him to play around when Portfolio Committee members are saying may you increase the purse. I also want to argue and say once we are budgeting from what we do not have, the Minister must also have a number of people in his Ministry that will find sources of generating revenue without having time to sit down and say this is what we are anticipating but where else can we find more revenue so that at least these ministries can function properly and meet their key result areas.
Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I also want to mention that I am a member of the Local Government Portfolio Committee. I was sitting there, listening to the Permanent Secretary when she was saying that with the budget that I have been allocated, I will be able to just build one block per province. In her argument, she was saying, ‘surely as a Permanent Secretary, can I just sit here and say for a whole year I am going to build ten structures and I will be comfortable’. This means while we are looking at growing and providing accommodation for our people, there is also need to look at these kinds of ministries so that at least we can be able to finance them and give them priority over other ministries that have existed over time.
I want to thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am for giving me an opportunity to air my views concerning our Budget. I think that if all of us put our heads together, it does not remain an issue for the Minister of Finance alone but it also becomes our baby. This august House, our Ministers and the Executive, let us put our heads together and make sure that this Budget works. I thank you.
HON. S. BANDA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this debate. Madam Speaker Ma’am, in 2021, our Budget was at ZWL$968 billion. This one that we have has almost like quadrupled. It has gone up by about 425%. If we look at the original budget and the supplementary budget, it means it is 600%. Is this possible? Are we able to spend that much? I think the Hon. Minister can really reflect even the way Hon. Charles Moyo was speaking of dollarisation. If we have got that, what it means is, we will have a more realistic budget. If we compare in US dollar terms, the Budget for 2022 and 2023, you will realise that the 2022 Budget was worth $5,2 billion and the one that we have now is worth about $6,2 billion. That is reasonable actually. From where I come from, we have realised that imports and exports are around $6 billion. Hon. Speaker Ma’am, if the Budget more or less meets the exports it will really show that money is circulating around the country.
Madam Speaker, let me go to the issue of statutory funds. The amount of money that is retained or that is being receipted by the line ministries and other organisations, you find that the money is enough to fund as of last year, a minimum of 1:1 but as of the current proposed Budget that would be about a quarter. I think there should be another way of managing the statutory funds so that they directly contribute to the Budget. In this instance, we do not know how much for example Ministry of Health is getting in terms of cards and how much are patients paying. We do not really know and we do not know where that money is going. I would urge the Hon. Minister to look into that and find out how we can ensure that statutory funds also come into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, let me talk about BEAM. I shudder to think that BEAM, the Hon. President pronounced that there will be free basic education in 2023. My question is; are the modalities now in place so that there is a basic free education? If it is there, then we have got - [technical fault]- We want the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to give infrastructural development, particularly on the Beitbridge road or the Beitbridge Border Post, other border posts and in some rural areas. What I shudder to see is that the percentage of money that has been allocated to the Ministry of Transport has actually gone lower than higher and yet if you look at the performance of some of the contractors who are now on the Harare-Beitbridge Road, you find that it has gone slightly down due to possibly payment issues.
Hon. Speaker, I will urge the Hon. Minister to relook into the budget of transport and find ways of growing it. If I look at the overall growth that was presented by the Hon. Minister’s projection of 2023 for SADC as a whole - [technical fault] - I am disturbed by this Madam Speaker, seeing that we are coming from an era of COVID-19 where there were a number lockdowns, where a number of things - [technical fault] - that is in the SADC, that the annual growth rate must be above 2.4%, so it is something that the Hon. Minister can also look at.
When we look at the GDP for 2023 Madam Speaker, it is projected at US$21.76 million. Madam Speaker, convert that into per capita income, it means we are around 1.3 thousand per capita and if we divide it into 365 days, every Zimbabwean is expected to be consuming an average of US$3.5 per day. That is something that we really need to grow if we want to move towards the middle to upper income society by 2030. We really need to grow the GDP by increasing the power supplies that we have. We need to have more independent power producers of energy. We need to have more suppliers of watered communities rather than ZINWA only because I think at the moment, their cup is full and they need to do more.
Madam Speaker, I also want to look at the youths and women of this country to say the amount that has been proffered to their respective banks; the Empower Bank, Zimbabwe’s Women Empowerment Bank, is not really solving the problems of the youths or women. We need to do more, we need to do away with the issues of collateral especially for women, I think that must go.
As I close, I continue to urge for more money to be put across especially to the health and education sectors. In Higher and Tertiary Education, there is some grading issues - [technical fault] - In prisons, when the last salary adjustment was made by the Hon. Minister, some of the Prison Officers are actually earning even more than their superintends. So you find that there is that element that needs to be properly looked at by the Hon. Minister and solved.
In terms of revenue – [technical fault] – Zimbabwe is already heavily taxed, so I think may be the Hon. Minister should go to 14% rather. With that Hon. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this debate.
(V)HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Thank you Madam Speaker – [technical fault] – primary and secondary because education got the highest money of the budget. It is unfortunate that most of that money goes to payment of salaries which is 87% of the money. As we look forward to the State funded basic education, there are a lot of things that are needed because payment of teachers and so on is actually one area which is also good that we have to pay good salaries to our teachers. What must be done in terms of improving in the education sector? I would also like to say funded education is going to give us a challenge bearing in mind that at the moment, we do not even know which sector or which part of -[technical fault] - State funded education and this makes it very difficult to give good and accurate statistics to what will be done by the Ministry of Finance.
Madam Speaker, you will also find that we need to capacitate the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education – [technical fault] - supervision to ensure that we must teach. The classrooms that we have must not be a hazard to the children. The Ministry must go down to grassroots and hence the need for capacitation. They need cars, they need to go and see that all those teachers who are there are doing their work. The issue of State funded education is like what we hear that “iwe neni tinebasa”. It is not only something for the Ministry of Finance.
We also have to look at the issue of our CDFs. We must come up with a policy and say for the CDF, we get we help in building classrooms or provision of furniture in our schools. That will help this provision for State funded education. We are actually borrowing this from the Zambian experience. When we visited Zambia as a Committee on Primary and Secondary Education in 2019, we realised that CDF can help in the building of schools and that can also be done in our country.
Madam Speaker, the teachers are very far away from their spouses, from their homes, they travel a lot and if the schools open, they always complain that – [technical fault] – Provision of those expensive assistive devices must be considered and especially also claims for persons with albinism. We have to consider these issues because we are always being left behind in terms of considering persons with disabilities as given by some conventions that were actually aligned to the African Charter, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. You would find that we are still behind. Even our Disability Act is one of 1992, but if we are to bring this up to align it with the Constitution then it means we need to increase funding so that our people with disabilities are also going to come up like the rest. I want to thank you Madam Speaker.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam Speaker I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th December, 2022.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Madam Speaker I move that Orders of the Day Number 2 to 9 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until Order Number 10 has been disposed of. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
JUDICIAL LAWS AMENDMENT BILL [H.B.3, 2022]
Tenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Reading of the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill [H. B. 3, 2022].
Question again proposed.
HON. GONESE: Madam Speaker I had not anticipated that the debate was coming up today. I liaised with the Hon. Minister and indicated to him that I intend to debate, but if the Hon. Minister insists I can debate now.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: May you please connect.
HON. GONESE: I can even debate now if Hon. Members are amenable.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Madam Speaker, I move that debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th December, 2022.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the House adjourned at Twenty-Five Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.