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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 9 DECEMBER 2021 VOL 48 NO 19
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 9th December, 2021
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)
FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion that leave be granted to bring in a Finance Bill.
Question again proposed.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to add my voice to the Budget that was presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Madam Speaker, I want to start by saying that the Budget Statement is a major political and economic statement by any Government. For that reason, the Budget Statement should always be credible to such an extent that members of the public, the business sector and everybody, including the international community can read into the plans and future of a country, based on the Budget Statement by the Hon. Minister of Finance.
It is unfortunate to state that our Budget for the past two years has been missing the target in the sense that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development has been failing to …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Mushoriwa, you have already debated on that motion, you cannot debate again.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I presented a Committee Report. So if your ruling is to say that when the Chair presents a Committee Report, he/she has already debated his/her own feelings about the Budget, then it means that every Member of Parliament in this august House – because we all belong to different Portfolio Committees, we cease to also participate in the debate because our contribution has already been factored into the Committee reports. My reading of the Standing Orders Madam Speaker does not relate to issues of a Committee Report, but relates to a particular motion where a Member cannot debate twice, not necessarily when you present a Committee report which is not an individual Member’s report. That is my reading of the Standing Orders.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mushoriwa, you are wrong on that. If you presented your Committee report, that is it, you will not have to debate again.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I think I will seek the Counsel to Parliament to have a relook into it because I read this and also did a thorough reading of the Standing Orders, but if your ruling is that I should not debate, I will stand guided - but I actually think that it will be a wrong interpretation of the relevant Standing Order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You said you will seek clarification from the Counsel to Parliament, it is alright, you may go ahead. Thank you.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. Let me begin by thanking the Hon. Minister for presenting the Budget proposal for 2022. I will not be long Hon. Speaker, I know that a lot of work has been carried out in Portfolio Committees, in the workshops that we have actually conducted as Parliament...
(v) HON. NDUNA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I am very sorry Madam Speaker, because I am on virtual, I raised my hand and hoped you would recognise me on a point of privilege, because once a debate has been started, I might not be able to present it. It is on issues to do with presentation of our debate on ICT – if you allow me Madam Speaker Ma’am.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Nduna, but you are saying if the debate has already started you cannot stand on a point of privilege and it has already started.
(v) HON. NDUNA: I wanted you to recognise me because my hand has been up and I hoped you would recognise me.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I did not see it because there was no hand.
(v) HON. NDUNA: It is still raised Madam Speaker, but I just asked that Parliament shares...
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You raised your hand after I had recognised Hon. Mpariwa.
(v) HON. NDUNA: No Madam Speaker, I ask that Parliament shares their e-mail address so that whatever it is that we cannot present for the Minister of Finance, we share it for the Hansard on their parliamentary e-mail address so that all the notes are compressed in that write-up and we do not use anything. This is my clarion call and request. Thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Whatever you want to share Hon. Nduna, you will be given time to debate.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I earlier on acknowledged that I want to appreciate that I will not be long on this platform for the fact that you will realise that we started with the budget pre-workshop and post-budget workshop and a lot of work has been covered in Portfolio Committees. I really want to appreciate even the presentation of the reports by Portfolio Chairpersons. I was listening carefully so that at least we get to know whether all is encompassed in the reports.
I stand here to acknowledge and add my voice to those who have spoken before me, I think when we say the people’s budget and pro-poor budget, we need to mean it in both actions and implementation. Implementation cannot be done if there is no sufficient allocation for those particular activities. I hope and trust that the Minister when he says a pro-budget, it is really that it is targeting the people and it is pro-poor. I am saying that because the emphasis is that because you will realise that most of the issues that were unpacked in the reports will affect women if there is no proper allocation or adequate allocation.
For example, if you say for any rural development - you say borehole drilling, if there is inadequate allocation in terms of water treatment, even rehabilitation of some of the equipment to allow water to flow, it means it impacts on women and it means it impacts on children and people with disabilities. So my plea to the Hon. Minister is that he needs to look at the allocations in terms of the human factor. Whatever affects the human face becomes a priority and it becomes pro-poor if that sector is allocated adequate resources that will make the category of people comfortable or to appreciate that we have catered for it.
Again Madam Speaker, with enablers, for example like ICT gadgets, cell phones, etc, it is my fervent hope that the Minister will re-look and rethink in terms of getting more resources around those ministries and portfolios so that at the end of it all – because you can see that we are less than 10 here and everyone else is in their places doing parliamentary work. Therefore, it goes without saying and I do not need to belabour this point, that ICT has become the only game in town when you want to debate or do meetings, etc.
I would want to persuade the Minister that when he does the improvement in terms of allocation, when he does his priorities, he should also prioritise that. If you are to go to school, you know that Covid has spread everywhere else and schools have been affected and children are back from school. They are in their homes and spaces. They will use the gadgets and their cell phones. I am appealing to the Minister that we really need to have the pro-poor approach in terms of deed and actions and action means implementation so that enough resources are allocated.
I will move on to the issue of rehabilitation in terms of every other Government building. You are talking of ZIPAM and Senga Training College. Those colleges are colleges that are there to promote skills in terms of communities. It is my appeal to the Minister that he also needs to look at that because that has become essential. Hotels have not been comfortable to civil servants. They have not been safe because Government does not own hotels but those places that I am talking about, the institutions that were there yesteryear need to be rehabilitated. There is need for more money and for the Minister to see whether more money is put there.
The next one is on grain or GMB – the facilitation of getting the maize to the communities and having the maize being treated where they are supposed to be at the GMB, there is need for the Minister to look at this particular Ministry. Without further ado, I appeal to the Minister to look at a human being and health. When you talk of health, you are talking about the whole human being and you are talking to anyone who is supposed to be moving and breathing. With the increase in COVID numbers and COVID detection, it is more sophisticated now that we need to be ready and we need to support that Ministry as well so that there is enough detection equipment that will get us on board as a country.
I would want to appreciate that the Minister looks at the Ministry of Education in terms of support; our own teachers in those institutions are running away because the environment is no longer tenable. So I hope that when the Minister allocates resources, he should have priority ministries that he takes care of, that he says even it means all money there, then I will also put all the money rather than leave this particular Ministry. So Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity and appeal that the Minister will have to rethink and accommodate some of the issues that I have highlighted within the budget. Thank you.
HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity to debate. My main concern is the issue of oversight Madam Speaker. As Parliament, we are supposed to have an oversight on the Budget and the finances of the country. My issue is, if we look at the Budget allocations, up to nine months, agriculture has spent 171%, finance 135%, energy 131% for example. These are repetitive offenders. It is not the first Budget that these people have spent more than they were allocated without the Minister either advising us or bringing it to us.
The issue that really worries me is the issue of allocations. How can National Housing at this stage only have 175 of the Budget allocated to them, the Lands Commission 27% and Parliament only got 33%? With the issues of corruption that we have, we only receive 33%. My issue is, not one of these ministries have changed in the last three years as being - what I call repetitive offenders for overspending. My question is; what is the point of us all sitting here and arguing about allocations of Budget as part of our oversight if it is not followed anyway?
I do understand particularly with Ministries like Agriculture that there are changes depending on seasons but why are we not informed before? Sadly, we cannot have oversight after the event. That is why the various acts give us 60 days to correct the wrong doing and in many cases it is not corrected. My issue on our Budget is, I believe and I am very concerned because we are always short of money in the last two or three years versus what we budgeted that our revenue must be obviously overstated.
I would like to move on to my second point which is our bilateral partners. The USA with over $340 million, the UK with $49 million and the EU with $31 million as bilateral partners are substantial donators to this country despite the abuse we give them in Parliament. In multi-national organisations like the Global Fund and the World Bank, these are at the top. It must not be understated that the Global Fund is giving us $222 million. My concern with our bi-lateral partners, and I find it very ironic, is that our erstwhile all weather friends - the Chinese are not listed. They have a paragraph and I have noted here, paragraph 157 in the presentation, which statement refers to the building of the Parliament, pharmaceutical warehouse, drilling of 500 boreholes and Covid vaccines. I know the Chinese have done a lot more than that and I do not see why they cannot present and have presented to us exactly the same format as every other country in the world. It is simply wrong that they get a different treatment. It worries me because it is obvious to me that there is no oversight on all of these loans and grants on the simple basis that we do not have a fact of how much money is involved in these loans and grants. If we want to maintain the East, we must also consider that countries like Japan and Korea give us some substantial increase.
My third point Madam Speaker is on the Special Drawing Rights. I stood up in Parliament two or three weeks ago and questioned the issue of the Special Drawing Rights and when we would be appraised as Parliament as to what was going to happen with regards the money that is going to be drawn. The Speaker himself asked me in Victoria Falls at the Pre-Budget Conference – he actually said to me, were you there because if you were there, it was cited that it would be covered in the Statement? It is covered in the Statement and we found now that already $311 million has been spent without appropriation or condonation from Parliament. Of the $311 million, $144 million went to roads, $77 million went to Covid and there is a reserve of $280 million. My question is, the forex reserve is fine and what the Minister expended on is also fine but it should go to Parliament first.
The other issue that concerns me is that the auction rate allocations in some cases are 12 weeks behind. Even the small and medium forex allocations are starting to delay. These all pertain to oversight. The Budget is well and good but when there are changes, when we have issues and when we get a windfall like the SDR, we must be very accountable because from where it came, we obviously want to be considered as being able to manage grants.
My biggest concern which is my fourth point is on our debt accumulation. The Hon. Minister has brought up that we have to look at enquiring and condoning the debt of $3,3 billionby the RBZ. That is a huge sum but what concerns me is the debts that are being kicked down the road. The Global Bids Settlement for example, which is mentioned is $3,5 billion. We have a Financial Adjustment Bill of $9,6 billion. Of the $9,6 billion, I would like to draw the attention that 54% of that Bill is for agricultural land not repaid.
We also have the Afrexim Bank loan of $1,4 billion which has not been appropriated by Parliament as we speak. We have the Chinese debt which I appreciate. It covers about $190 million and it covers Hwange, RG Airport, TelOne, poverty alleviation, education and smallholding irrigation. In the pipeline, we have Hwange 1 to 6 for $310 million and the Covid. However, we need details of all this to be put down comprehensively so that we have a total that we can appropriate and we know what is borrowed and what is granted. By issuing this debt, if this comes to fruition and I am correcting my analysis, we have a huge debt problem on the arising and this is not in my view, putting a Budget Statement accordingly.
Madam Speaker, the last issue I would like to talk on briefly is agriculture. Agriculture is fast becoming our nemesis. We have got about 1,2 million tonnes against 2,7 million of wheat. However, our second major import in the first nine months this year is maize to the tune of $110 million. I am concerned that the maize issue is costing us more than it should. If you encompass this with all the debtsand I will mention the debts briefly, all of them with CBZ, we have got recovery rates of 26% for winter maize. We lend $76,8 million and we have got a recovery rate of 0,6%. Our maize of $21 billion, we have got a recovery rate of 22%, similarly soya beans we have got a recovery rate of 15%. My problem with this is very simple. Despite the Minister telling us that he has privatised all the agricultural loans, he might be privatising in the sense of giving them to a bank. However, the man who is going to cover the loans is the man in the street by paying his taxes. All our maize subsidies are duty cost. We need a detailed breakdown on these issues.
My final point and this concerns me bigger than anything. In mining, some of the big questions and announcements that came up in Parliament but only in passing from the Minister of Finance was the formation of Kuvimba. Kuvimba with all its mining assets and evaluations over billion dollars have not been brought to Parliament for us to understand what is going on. We are already in November and some shares have been paid up and without mentioning to the commercial farmers’ compensation, why has this not been brought to Parliament?
Fidelity Printers, the Minister announced to Parliament that some 6 to 7 miners have bought share obits to Fidelity Printers. Fidelity Printers is a brand and not printers of the gold side. We purchase our gold from there and we are privatising this and Parliament knows none of the details. We have other issues, banks have been privatised without us knowing, we should know so that we can argue all these points and when it comes to the budget, we know what we are talking about.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, I have a serious issue about the reality of oversight of Parliament. I do not believe Parliament has any oversight, I firmly believe that the Minister and the Cabinet ask things and things are picked down the road and only given to us in Parliament at the very last moment when it is too late. My concern very simply is by the time we discover all these, it will be too late for Parliament to do anything. I round up on $3,3 billion that has been placed in front of us from Reserve Bank, Reserve Bank guarantee 2,9 of that. We have absolutely no alternative but to accept that debt and that is not oversight. I thank you.
(v)HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice to our National Budget for 2022. My first concern is that the National Budget is not mentioning the number of jobs to be created in the year 2022. May the Hon. Minister tell the august House how many jobs are to be created, it will be pleasing to hear a figure.
Secondly, civil servants are getting their bonuses in USD as a token of appreciation by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development acknowledging that ZWL is no longer working. So, why not budget using USD, a stable currency so that our citizens will be happy.
Thirdly, there is a mis-match when ministries reported their requests, they were totaling $2,7 trillion Zimbabwean dollars and in his wisdom, the Minister of Finance gave us a budget of $927 billion which is not even half, because 50% of $2,7 trillion gives us about $1,350 billion. So the Ministries were very clear to say in 2022, they want to do certain things - for example, the Minister of Industry and Commerce requested $40 billion and they were given a paltry $3, 9 billion. How then is the Ministry of Industry and Commerce going to re-tool to innovate and even to resuscitate ZISCO Steel which has been on National Budgets since 2018? How are they going to capacitate and resuscitate the industry? There is need for the Hon. Minister to revise the allocation which is given to IDCZ so that our companies can be revived.
Fourthly, let me take for an example, Ministry of Foreign Affairs which requested in their initial request ZWL13 billion and they were given only ZWL14, 9 billion. Madam Speaker Maam, they have got salary, rent arrears, they have some stipends to pay, they need to refurbish and make sure that our embassies move from their deplorable state. With this money, surely, the image of our country is at stake and this will affect the engagement and re-engagement process. In a nutshell, this will affect our NDS 1 running from 2021 -2025, our Vision 2030, our SDG’s as well as agenda.
Surely, Hon. Minister of Finance must sit and say the image of the country is at stake and make sure he increases the Vote given in place of Foreign of Affairs accordingly.
Fifthly, this is to do with energy – there are serious power shortages, serious load shedding in our constituencies. This is affecting our citizens, industries, forestry and ZESA. When the Hon. Minister of Finance happens to sit down to revise and revisit the Vote given to our Ministries, he must sit down and say, this is not addressing our citizens’ issues needs and aspirations. This is my submission that as he sits down, he must consider all these issues for the betterment of the country. I thank you.
(v)HON. WARTSON: My first concern is that there was not a specific exchange rate given for use in budget calculations and tax calculations. Given that between the 13th September 2021 and the 7th December, there was a 21% change in the exchange rate against the USD.
Also not one of the Committee reports in terms of the social services, health, education and social welfare presented a report that painted a picture of sufficient allocation, timeous allocations. This to me is a huge concern, having a budget which then only for example, by September only 46% was released defeats the objective. As Hon. Markham has pointed out, where do we fit in without the oversight role in terms of that because by the time we get to debate, it would be probably too late.
So once the Minister has said that the increase of our budget in real terms, what will be the projection of the allocation from January to December next year in terms of exchange rates against USD?
Also in terms of water, Bulawayo requires water. Again the dam is still not completed or even near completion. Bulawayo is faced with severe water rationing because we have insufficient access to water. These are issues that are of concern to citizens and the rest of us.
The Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Bulawayo and other areas are going without power through the lack of capability of ZETDC to repair the infrastructure which is being vandalised. Therefore, equally ZRP or whosoever is responsible for stopping vandalism is failing energy to the nation and the Minister seriously needs to possibly change his priorities to relocate these issues. Also I am concerned about the drag if parastatals and also the cause of the drag. Do we know how much they contribute to the fiscus or they are not. My other concern was that he has proposed certain taxes and levies which will ring-fence towards unhealthy issues. However, some time ago a 5% airtime levy was proposed at internet, one assumes and nowhere is one able to find out what has happened, was the revenue followed and has it gone to health? For example in Zimbabwe, people want a share of that as Hon. Labode mentioned, but now international funders are withdrawing. Thank you Madam Speaker.
HON. MBONDIAH: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to also add my voice. I will particularly look at the budget in respect of the Auditor General’s office. The AG’s office was allocated $3.4 billion, out of a requested budget of $958 billion. The AG’s office is a critical office and must be fully funded to ensure it discharges the duties effectively. She is responsible for auditing all Government Ministries, parastatals and Local Government.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, we are now in a serious era of digitalisation and the AG’s office is expected to move from manual system so that they audit reports and they are produced timeously. Therefore, I would like to urge the Hon. Minister of Finance to revise their allocation upwards, from a paltry $300 million allocated for digital upgrade, which require an amount of $856 million.
The Audit Office is only housed in Harare and has no offices across the nine provinces in the country. Now that we are in the fourth wave of COVID-19, travelling to other provinces during this pandemic will be very difficult. Therefore, I call upon the Hon. Minister of Finance to also revise the budget upwards so that the Audit Office has adequate offices across the country to efficiently gather data for the production of reports. I thank you.
HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Madam Speaker for allowing me to also contribute to this budget debate. I would like to urge the Minister to continue to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Our economy is running around the strength of this area. I think 60 to 80% of the people, if my statistics are correct, are employed in those sectors. Giving support to these areas, not only in urban areas but I would really request that the Minister provides resources deliberately for the rural economies where most of our people live, work and contribute to the economy of this country.
Things like coming up with processing of agricultural produce in the rural areas, without taking what is produced in Mutoko, Gutu or Tsholotsho to an urban centre, buy small machinery and process agricultural produce in those communities. This will go a long way in creating incomes for people and also improve their livelihoods.
The other issue I want to talk about is related to tax, related to mobile phones. In my view, this is a very important tax. I would only recommend that the Minister look at the structure but the idea of having a tax on mobile phones and many other luxuries; it is very important. Why do I say that? How are these cellphones bought? Are they bought through the formal financial system or they are bought through externalisation of foreign currency without going through the financial system? If this tax is going to encourage our people to use our financial system, then this is a very important tax.
The Government can come up with a tax for every phone, given its size and cost, fine but having this tax will help us deal with externalisation. If you look at the number of phones, if you go to the Gulf area in Harare – go to any other place where these malls are, they are full of cellphones. These cellphones are bought through very unclear ways. In a way this disrupts our economy. This disrupts even our reserves because foreign currency is not going to our financial system.
So Minister, I want to encourage that you look at how you can – because people are arguing around chimbudzi costing US$10, now you want to charge US$50 on top. I think those are the details that can be dealt with, but dealing with luxuries or imported items that are brought into our country when they are not imported using our financial system, is very dangerous for the management of our economy.
The Minister and the monetary authorities should just be aggressive in dealing with the parallel market. If we look at our prices, I do not think they are driven by any challenges in our financial fundamentals. Everything is speculation. Everything is driven by the parallel market. How these people in the parallel market determine the price of the United States dollar against the Zimbabwean dollar, nobody knows. So, what we should deal with is the parallel market and the economy will stabilise. There is a missing link. We do not have a prescription to deal with it. They do what they want. They run the economy. It is like they have got a free move. They can do whatever they want. I really want to raise it with the Minister and the RBZ to deal with the parallel market. It has to go. Obviously, it cannot go totally. The parallel market is everywhere in the world but we cannot have everybody selling foreign currency at will. If you go to any corner in Harare today, they do it.
If the Minister does not have enough laws to deal with this, come back to Parliament and let us come up with a law that will deal with the parallel market and our prices will stabilise and then you can run your budget with no challenges. Our budget becomes very predictable, but at this juncture, with the behaviour of these people in the parallel market, whatever we are planning here overnight can be changed by these criminals in my view.
So Minister, I will also urge you to put so much money, if you can, in supporting women and youth economic activities through the Women’s Bank and the Empowerment bank. If we are really serious to encourage new business or new business ideas coming from the youth, let us empower the Empowerment Bank by giving them enough capital to support youth initiatives. We have youth who have ideas but they go to banks that are charging interest rates that are not even economic. It is like everybody, including the banks today, they are running a parallel market economy. They charge parallel market rates. So we can empower the Empowerment Bank by giving it enough capital and also giving it direction because it looks like they forget that they were created to support youth who have no collateral security, who have circumstances that will not allow them to secure their loans, but they have got ideas that must be supported.
So I want to say Minister, let us support Empowerment Bank and Women’s Bank especially for these banks also to support the rural economies that I was talking about. It is very critical because these are very active players in our economy. Minister, largely when I look at your budget presentation, I am very excited that if these areas that are not very economic in nature are dealt with, you will really fight. I think you should not be fighting things like inflation because our inflation is derived from the parallel market. What we need to deal with at the moment is the parallel market and once the parallel market goes , people can borrow from the Zimbabwean dollar and if our banks are supportive of Government policy and Government thrust, then the economy will stabilise and production will be increased in every sector, but the challenge is, nobody can predict what tomorrow is going to be like in terms of pricing. So if they think something tells them that tomorrow morning prices will go up by 50%, they just wake up and increase the prices and to ask them why they have increased the prices, they will say they are scared of what the parallel market will be like tomorrow.
So Minister, let us fight the parallel market. Let us try by all means to encourage our people to bank, to use our financial system, to use our banking system because if you ask everybody in the streets here, they have got pockets full of United States dollars. Where they got that, whether they have withdrawn them from the bank or not, you will find that nobody has ever banked but they have all that money. That foreign currency is an important and scarce commodity for this country. We should find a way of protecting it and encourage our people to bank.
Lastly Minister, I encourage you to come up with a way that will encourage diaspora support to our economy. If we look at the US$1 billion that came from the diaspora, it means our people out there really want to work with our economy. They really want to support what Government is doing and also buy and develop assets in Zimbabwe, but we need to come up with instruments that will encourage that. It is a source of income at the moment, maybe competing very well with our gold, diamonds and with other minerals in terms of earnings that we find coming to Zimbabwe. What have we put in place in the budget that is going to encourage more inflow from the diaspora? What is in it for them as they support our budget? In as far as they send money to Zimbabwe, they want to see value on their money that they bring to Zimbabwe.
I think we need to come up with strong instruments, encouraging instruments so that the diaspora supports what we are doing. Many economies are run and are supported by the people who are out there earning incomes but they want to work together with their Government or their country. As a country, what have we put in place in our budget that is going to support diaspora support that we are getting? I thank you.
(v)*HON. NYABANI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like the Minister to have a closer look at cotton farmers. You should prioritise paying cotton farmers after they have delivered their produce. Seventy-five percent of the economy is largely supported by agriculture, so the Minister should make sure that farmers’ needs are met, especially cotton farmers should not just farm without getting paid.
Coming to the issue of ICT which is now the new normal because of the COVID -19 pandemic, let us ask ourselves how much has been put in this sector in the budget. People now meet virtually; people now do everything virtually. How much have you invested in network infrastructure upgrade so that children in the rural areas are able to conduct online lessons? A country does not develop without electricity. We are all having challenges pertaining to electricity. What does your budget have to cater for electricity in rural areas Rural Electrification, we had put poles but the poles are now being consumed by termites and the rural areas have not been electrified. [Part of the speech not recorded due to network failure.] We want Government workers to be well looked after because the country cannot move forward if workers are not happy. What is our budget saying about workers’ wages? This is my contribution Hon. Speaker.
(V)HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker – [HON. GONESE: Can I proceed.] – Order Hon. Gonese. Hon. Raidza proceed.
(V) HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate. I want to add my voice to the budget that was presented by Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Prof. M. Ncube to this august House. Thefirst point that I will talk about is regarding the release of funds to Ministries. I just want to add my voice there. It is very difficult as well to have a balancing act when it comes to these issues as national finance management. I want to encourage our Hon. Minister to try and make sure that at least the releases are given to the user ministries in time. I want to talk about devolution as well because that serves as a very important constitutional requirement. If you look at our budget, we allocate money to devolution but this money is not always released in time so I want to encourage the Hon. Minister to make sure that in his releases, he also prioritises devolution funds.
When we talk about inclusive growth or inclusive development in our community, devolution was coming to exactly do that. The issue of devolution Minister, you need to take it with the seriousness it deserves. There are a number of issues around the devolution - we understand there are monies that are given to local authorities in the advent of the enabling legislation. There is need for very strict monitoring and evaluation so that the citizens of this country get the value for those funds that would have been released to the local authority.
The other issue that I also want to talk about is regarding taxation. I understand the Minister is proposing that we must have a cellphone levy. This levy in paragraph 600 to 602 looks like the Minister wants to encourage people to pay the 25%, which is more like the presumptive tax on the cellphones. The way the Hon. Minister has presented it that is where I have some reservation. The Hon. Minister was proposing that even if you pay 25% at ZIMRA, he will still need to pay the US$50 dollars cost at the cell phone operating companies, then after that then you come back again to ZIMRA and claim your money.
I think if we really want our people to be compliant with taxes, we need to make the whole process simpler, easier and friendly even to use. If we make the whole process complicated like that, that you need to pay at the Customs then after I pay I go to the cellphone companies then I pay another US$50 then I come back again to ZIMRA then I claim the money and this money must be paid in 30 days. I think the process becomes cumbersome, it becomes even more discouraging. So we need to come up with a smoother process that will end up encouraging our citizens to pay taxes whenever they purchase their cellphones. The other issue is on the issue of the 20% motor insurance fees. I want to propose to the Minister that I think it is high time that we establish what we call motor vehicle accidents fund. The Hon. Ministers said in this statement that 20% must be paid to Consolidated Revenue Fund then it will be administered from there. If we propose that everything must be administered from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, we end up getting challenges. So I propose that we adopt the best practices even that we are seeing in the region that many of the countries in the region are also having the motor vehicle accident fund. What happens during accidents - there are a lot of things that happen during the night, people get injured and they need special treatment? A whole lot of things will need to be attended to especially when accidents are involved. So, I want to propose to the Minister to say I think if he establishes a fund through the Ministry of Transport, I think it will be easier for citizens to be in a position to access this fund whenever they got involved in accidents.
I want to talk about the issue of fiscalisation, our Minister had been bemoaning about non-compliance when it comes to fiscalisation, that is why our Hon. Minister was also proposing that from now onwards, they will be using the systemised input invoices. That is progressive but I think we need to look at other ways because we have a number of companies that are equally also transacting in cash, US dollars and the ones who are not accepting electronic transfer and all these kinds of things. How is our Hon. Minister going to make sure that these people also contribute back to our fiscus through payment of value added tax?
We have a number of companies, if we go down town there, there are a lot of these foreign owned shops, they are all selling in cash, they do not accept any other form. So how will these people account for both their income tax and their value added tax? If you go to the industries, there especially where they are in the business of selling groceries and wholesaling those people are making huge amounts but these people are not contributing anything to the fiscus.
I want to encourage the Minster that it is high time that ZIMRA must be seen to be doing something that will benefit this country because we are losing a lot of money in that regard. On the issue of the withholding tax, where our Hon. Minister also proposes it from the current 10% to 30%, I want also just to encourage the Minister to look into that issues very seriously to say the 30%, will it not even encourage people to be non-compliant by raising it up to 30% while people were not complying with this 10%. I think in these issues there was a lot of corruption that was involved because the withholding tax mainly dealt with the Central Government but with private sectors, how is our Hon. Minister going to make sure that some of these companies withhold the 30% that the Hon. Minister is proposing. So I think as a way of encouraging our companies to always be good standing when it comes to tax issues, I think we need to have more incentives for these companies as well.
The other issue that I want to touch on is to translate what you have been talking about since 2018 about parastatals getting into real and productive work. Our parastatals I think by this time, we need to see them contributing significantly to our fiscus, but currently many of our parastatals are not doing that. So ZERA must be encouraged and be funded from this budget to make sure that they move with speed and make sure that at least those parastatals that need to be privatised and capitalised, those things are done on time to make sure that they are supported so that they render services to our citizens and also contribute something to our fiscus. So we need to move with speed in that regard.
Support to the SMEs, I have a proposal to the Minister that either empowerment of the Women’s Bank, SMEDCO or the Ministry of Women’s Affairs need to be given some significant amount so that at least they will be in a position to support our women and youth. If they are not given enough money, then we will not be in a position to move forward as a country. Our President always says that no one should be left behind but we must move forward together. My proposal is that we need to move away from giving these our women and youth money without giving them any business advisory support.
I propose that we need to either empower the Women’s Bank to come up with what we call factory shells and incubation centres. We need real incubation centres so that whoever is given money by the Women or Empower Bank goes through the training and education on business planning, management and taxation issues or even to go further in the incubation where we can even employ experts in taxation who do this planning so that they help our women and youth to become successful. Our goal must not just be to give our youths and women money but if we want them to be successful we must also support them with business advisory services.
On the issue of SDRs in terms of paragraph 146/148, I understand the Minister has proposed how he wants to use the SDRs. I am in agreement with what the Minister has proposed in his Budget Statement because if we look at his proposal, we are seeing that much of the money he is proposing, he wants to use it in support of agriculture and at the same time, putting some money in reserves for some contingencies. I support the proposal. If we support our infrastructure development and agriculture, I think we will be in a position to achieve Vision 2030 as has been enunciated by His Excellency, our President Dr. E.D. Mnangagwa.
Lastly, I want to look at the issues of agriculture. I want to talk about the activities of the army or agricultural commodity exchange. We know there is a lot of activity and a lot of excitement from the women, young people and the elderly. We all want to do something in agriculture. Minister, I want to encourage you to give more money and support to the army so that they become visible, operational and help us as farmers to make sure that at least as we will be doing our work, we know that our produce will always have a market. We are seeing in rural areas, many of our irrigation farmers are doing a lot of work there but at the end of the day their produce is not finding a market. We want the army and ZimTrade to be well funded so that they come to the party and support our agricultural recovery strategy.
The other issue that you have to look at Minister is the support that we can give to our Agritex Extension Officers. They have been doing so well if you look at the last farming season. They have been working so tirelessly. So the issue that you started in terms of supporting them on tools of trade like motorcycles, accommodation, laptops and other tools that they need, you need to continue with that. It is very progressive. We are seeing that support translating into productivity.
The last issue regarding farming is, as you are aware that the 2021/2022 farming season looks very promising, I want to encourage our Minister of Finance to put more money into GMB for our grain reserves so that our farmers will be paid on time. We appreciate what we have been doing in the 2020/2021 farming season. Farmers got their money on time and I want to encourage you to continue and budget more money for this initiative in the 2021/2022 farming season so that our farmers will continue to be encouraged and motivated to continue tilling the land. I thank you.
*(v)HON. TEKESHE: I would like to add my voice to the budget debate. I have participated four times in the budget process but I have noted that ministries like the Ministry of Health are not properly financed. We just give figures but nothing materialises and even Ministry of Education. These ministries are not benefitting that much especially those in the rural areas who are poor.
Going to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, there are no medicines in the hospitals yet there is a budget allocation to the Ministry. Does this imply that the Minister is just prescribing a budget and not doing what he says he will do? People end up going to prophets and traditional healers because they cannot afford to go to pharmacies and private doctors where medicines are found. These are our key ministries and it is important that the Ministries of Education and Health are funded. If these ministries are not capacitated through financing, then nothing goes well. We plead with the Minister to allocate more funds so that we have access to medicines in our hospitals and our children are educated.
Hon. Minister, it is important that people benefit from our social welfare which must be well funded. Looking at the agriculture sector, yes I agree agriculture is the backbone of our country but that is where we are losing most of our money. If you look at the way funds were being looted through the Command Agriculture, you wonder where we are going. So if you are allocating funds for Command Agriculture, you need to put stringent control measures so that you do not continue giving inputs to people who are doing nothing and bleeding our fiscus. You need to take measures to plug in holes where there are leakages. I thank you.
(v)HON. GONESE: Thank you Madam Speaker. The 2022 National Budget is anti-people. I am not happy with the Budget for various reasons which I am going to outline in my contribution. Madam Speaker, we would have expected the Hon. Minister to come up with a pro-poor budget aimed at poverty reduction. As we speak, it is common cause that the majority of the people of Zimbabwe are living a life of destitution. People are impoverished. This is because over the last few years when we were going though economic turmoil, people are poor, there is a lot of poverty, people cannot make ends meet; they cannot bank and bring food on the table.
The first point I want to make Madam Speaker is that the Hon. Minister should be real. The reality of the situation in Zimbabwe is that people do not have confidence in the Zimbabwean dollar and this is the reason why there is the parallel market. It is because of the confidence. I am not an economist but I believe better in common sense and the people of Zimbabwe also have got common sense. If you just go on the streets Madam Speaker, you should be aware that if you ask for prices from vendors, whether they are selling tomatoes, bananas or even wild fruits, they are always quoting dollar for so much because they believe in the currency of the United States of America and not in our own currency.
I believe that the Hon. Minister should be brave enough to tackle that elephant in the horn. If we go down memory lane in 2019, I think it was Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 which deemed the Zimbabwean dollar to be the sole legal tender in the country and outlawed the use of multi-currencies. However last year, the Hon. Minister through the Exchange Control Regulations reneged on that officially after realisation that people have continued using the USD. The first point I want to make is that there have been calls from various quotas, both from economists and non-economists that the way to go is to accept that the dollarisation, the Bond Note as it was called then was trading at about 1:3. I remember there was a time when members of the Zimbabwean Executive were boasting that the RTGS was the strongest currency in the region, that is at the time it was trading at 1:9 but where is it now? Officially it has gone above 100 but in the real world where the majority of transactions are taking place, it is trading at 1:180 if you are lucky otherwise it is close to hitting the 1:200 mark. Even at the official auction rate, it has now gone above 100 after a long time when it had been artificially pegged at around 89. My submission Madam Speaker, is that the Hon. Minister should eat the humble pie and accept that it was a brilliant idea to say that firstly, we are going to have exclusive use of the Zimbabwean dollar, only to backtrack and say that no, we are going to allow limited use of the United States dollar. The reality Madam Speaker, is that if you look at one even if we had been in the House, everyone in their pocket has got US dollars. The reason is that no one believes in the fiction that the Zimbabwean dollar is a valuable currency. People do not believe in it at all, even the Government itself. When you look at what they have done in respect of our bonuses, yes it is going to benefit pensioners, civil servants but on the other hand, when you look at the other side of the coin, it is an admission that the Zimbabwean dollar has lost its value. People say they do not want it. Teachers unions, doctors, nurses and all civil servants have been saying that they want their salaries to be paid in US dollars. Why is it so? Madam Speaker, when you look at the provision that people are going to be paid bonuses, it is not being very beneficial because I was hearing from Mutare where I come from, that people have been stranded in queues, sleeping overnight waiting for the disbursement of the money. Some of the banks were saying what was put on paper in the banks does not match the physical cash that they got.
The long and short of it Madam Speaker, is that Government itself is not able to avail sufficient dollars, the reason being that people are withholding their dollars. People are putting their dollars under the pillow. Not many people are keen to trade on the market because they know of the consequences as a result of our policy inconsistencies. We had in the past people losing their money in banks, so people are very reluctant to put their money in banks. Where they have got a choice, they would rather be comfortable putting it under the pillow, the mattresses at the risk of being robbed. Robbers have been targeting people whom they suspect to have money but the bottom line is, if the Hon. Minister was to bite the words and accept that this experiment with de-dollarisation has not really worked. Go back to the drawing board, wait for an opportune time where production has increased, where we have dealt with the other economic fundamentals, that will then be the appropriate time when you can say that we can now revert to the use of our own local currency.
I know that you can be proud as Zimbabweans that we want to use our own currency but at the end of the day, if people do not have confidence in it, it defeats the whole purpose because we will just be maintaining the fiction that our base currency is the Zimbabwean dollar but the majority of transactions are being conducted using a currency which is not our own.
My main point is that this Budget is not going to achieve the intended objective because as it is, it is now close to $1 trillion. The reality is that it has been going up over the years but in real terms, you may find out that there have been no real increases because it is just a manifestation of inflationary pressures of the inflation that we continue having in the country. I believe that this budget is not going to curb the issue of inflation. It will continue unabated and it will be fuelled by activities on the parallel market. I know that a lot of people want to blame traders and so on, but my respective view is that the majority of people, including Government itself do not have confidence in the currency itself. That is the reason why so many measures are being implemented, even the punitive tax on cellphones is pegged in US dollars. Nothing is being pegged in Zimbabwean dollars. If you look at when people are importing goods, duties are now levied in US dollars. Why do we not just go the whole way and accept that at this point in time people do not believe in the Zimbabwean dollar?
Having said that Madam Speaker, I will just deal with a few other issues which I think are very critical in our country. The first one relates to the Health Budget. I think that it is important for the Minister to really clarify what is the correct position. From my understanding in the presentation, it was stated that Health be allocated 14.9% of the Budget but some analysts claim that this $111.7 billion, unfortunately I have not had site of the Blue Book myself, so I do not know of the actual figure which had been allocated to the Ministry of Health. It is important for the Hon. Minister to clarify this one because it has been stated by some analysts that in fact that amount translates to 12.7% of the Budget which will then fall short of the Abuja Declaration. If it is really 14.9%, then we are getting closer to the target but that needs to be clarified. The most important thing is the fact that these releases – it is an issue that has beenraised by those that have spoken before me, I do not know why we continue to have this problem whereby the 30th of September, most ministries do not receive half of the bids.
In terms of the releases, it is important for the Hon. Minister not to take the people of Zimbabwe and Parliament for granted. It is imperative that whatever has been allocated should be disbursed as soon as possible so that we do not continue having this scenario where for example as at the 30th of September, the majority of ministries would have not received their money.
The last point that I am going to talk about relates to children. Children are the future of this country; they are the future leaders and parents. I believe that ministries which are dealing with children like Health, Public Service and Education should have more money allocated to them in respect of issues relating directly to the children themselves. We have issues of BEAM under the Public Service and we have had scenarios where monies have not been disbursed timesouly and it is important that when the Minister deals with his allocations, the monies are not just inadequate but in addition to that, they are timely released so that the monies can serve the intended objective.
It is also important that we have sectors like the Children’s Parliament. We have a situation where it is not getting enough budgetary support. We need to have more interaction between the main Parliament and the Children’s Parliament. Recently we had the formation of the Child Rights Caucus and the reason is because it was realised that issues relating to children have not been adequately dealt with. We have got a scenario where children are half of the population but the allocations of the Budget in relation to child activities is only about 10%. We now need to have a matching of what is allocated to children and the percentage of the children.
Having said that, I think it is important that the Hon. Minister goes back to the drawing board and attends to the fundamental issues which have been bedeviling our economy. It is only then that we will be able to have economic recovery. If we continue hiding behind a finger we will not get anywhere. The reality of the situation is that the people of Zimbabwe do not have any confidence whatsoever in the Zimbabwean dollar. It is important that confidence should be restored and before it is restored, let use a stable currency so that if we have our budget crafted in US$, we know that in January we would have more or less the same value in December and not the current situation. I rest my case.
(v)HON MUCHIMWE: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to speak out. As far as I understand, the Budget is just so sound and what I have to add are a few items which should have been included in the Budget. The Budget of this country must mainly focus on agriculture. Any stable country is supported by agro-based activities. Production of food stuffs must not be effective during rainy season only, but be active during autumn and winter by providing protective fencing and harvesting water so that farmers can do production of foodstuffs even in winter when there is no rain.
What we want in the rural areas are dams and boreholes. Thanks to His Excellency for road rehabilitation. Production of food will find its way to urban areas where people do not work in fields or farms but need food for survival. Many farms are lying idle while cities are congested with men and women who could be producing quite a lot if they could go to the farms.
Another area where Government is losing money is at tollgates.So much money is lost at these areas because of a slow method of collecting money from travellers. Some people cancel their journeys due to fear of frustration at tollgates thus reducing what could be collected per day.
Last but in no way the least, I would like to talk about the Chiadzwa predicament. Large sums of money find its way in the hands of dealers who have support from the outside world. A clinical eye must focus on PVO for the support they intend to give to our people. Our people become very lazy because they are given money by PVOs and NGOs. People must be seen working. If someone needs help he must be given a hook so that he can fish. The PVOs are causing havoc in our country.
When I was a school teacher sometime ago, I used to get Z$170 per month and it was enough for me and my family. This time teachers are getting thousands of dollars and it is not working. The US$ is a worm that is destroying our economy. Find a way of letting this money out of the country. It must reside in Government coffers or these big entities who should buy raw materials from abroad and not on every individual on the streets. Government must arrest all these people who have US$ on the streets. I thank you.
*(v)HON. R.R. NYATI: I want to add my voice on a few items in relation to the Budget that was presented to this House and how the Budget can accommodate all of us as one country. My contribution is that when the Hon. Minister is budgeting he is not budgeting looking at what he has but he is looking at what the nation requires then he also determines what will be allocated to the RBZ and what revenue can be raised through trading. Because of the economic environment, some plans might be disturbed by the macroeconomic environment.
Mining companies and agricultural entities will be closed, this means that the money which we were expecting to come will not be disbursed in the amounts that we expected. The suggestion that I would like to give, which I have heard some Hon. Members alluding to the Minister is, when they are allocating funds to ministries, they should do so but they should not give other ministries exceedingly high amounts of money.
As we were analysing the Budget Statement, we noticed that by end of September, there were ministries that had received allocations of more than 100%, meaning that they were proceeding to dip into the Government’s fiscus before other ministries had their allocations disbursed. This also includes the Parliament of Zimbabwe. If I remember very well, by the end of September, Parliament had received only 33% of their allocations. However, we have to understand that Parliament of Zimbabwe is the most important institution compared to all the ministries because it is the one which provides oversight to all the Government ministries. So if Parliament of Zimbabwe is not given enough money, it means that its oversight role will not be done and Ministry officials will just get into their offices, hang their jackets and go back home as no one will be checking on their accountability. Portfolio Committees will be unable to go out on fact finding visits and public hearings so that they can ensure issues are settled in time. So I would like to urge the Minister that as they disburse funds to ministries, they should also consider Parliament of Zimbabwe because it is one of the important institutions in the day to day running of our country Zimbabwe.
Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I would also like to speak about a very important issue of the causes of inflation in our Zimbabwean economy. We are observing that there is a lot of cash circulating and not being banked at our local banks. What is the reason for that? The reason is that if you bank your money, it does not earn any form of interest. Instead, one is charged for keeping the money in the bank and the amount that is debited is too huge such that one does not understand how it is charged.
The Government came up with a good programme of the foreign exchange auction where foreign exchange is sold such as the United States Dollar, Pounds and other foreign monies. Although we speak about it that it is good to have the foreign exchange auction in order to control the rate of inflation, inflation is still high because people keep their cash and sell it at the parallel market. We see this happening but nothing is being done about it.
We have been talking about this issue for several years but no action has been taken to avert this. In English they say, ‘thinking and wishing and not doing anything about it does not help at all.’ So we are just thinking and wishing - we are just the same as a door which just pivots at the same place yet covering a big distance in kilometers. That is what we are doing, we have identified the problem but we are not providing a solution to it. I request that for those who are concerned about this problem, let us rise up in time and ensure that laws are put in place to make sure that there is only one Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and not allow individuals to act on behalf of the Central Bank.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would like to speak on the cell-phone levies as alluded to by others. Now, I view this as bad advice. It is important to just put in place a tax so that the one who is selling a cell-phone is taxed immediately after the purchase. When we were in Victoria Falls, we all saw the importance of cell-phones, even the smallest phones. There was a very important innovation to ensure that children in rural areas are able to study using very cheap cell-phones and viewing subjects and books as they study in their areas of residence. We should support technology so that it reaches everyone and such technology can be found in the form of a cell-phone. However, we are closing this development to the extent that a cell-phone will become a very expensive gadget and it will be difficult for children in remote places to afford this gadget. I would like to ask the Minister to look at this in light of this vision.
The other important issue is that most ministries, including those covered by our Portfolio Committees is that disbursement of funds is being delayed. This late disbursement of funds to ministries affects the turnaround time of their objectives per year or per quarter. So I encourage the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to look into this issue so that funds are disbursed in time and that our work is carried out in time. Madam Speaker Ma’am, the timely disbursements of funds to ministries will help us to carry out our oversight role in a smooth manner. In addition, oversight is done well when our Members and staff of Parliament are happy - this will ensure that the whole nation performs well. There is no Ministry without a Portfolio Committee which has an oversight role over it. This means that we will be able to monitor the work of all ministries and if anything goes amiss, we will quickly observe and necessary action is taken and our economy will stabilise. I would like to thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am for giving me this opportunity to say a few words on my views towards the development of our economic wealth. I thank you.
HON. GANDAWA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. I have a few items I want to add in terms of contribution to our National Budget for 2022. The first point I want to discuss is on how the Budget is going to support our youth. Over the years, there has been that deliberate effort to say let the Youth Bank or the Women’s Empowerment Bank take the lead in terms of supporting our women and supporting the youth on providing financing facilities. I want to encourage the Minister of Finance to have a relook at that model. You would notice that the balance sheet of both the Women Empowerment Bank and the balance sheet of the Youth Bank are not big enough to be able to sustain funding youth in all the ten provinces. I was going to suggest to the Minister that instead of just focusing on the Women’s Bank and the Youth Bank, why do we not open this facility to all the banks that are in Zimbabwe so that they provide provisional funding to our youth and to our women?
I was going to suggest that it will be the best interest of Zimbabwe to be sure that all the banks that are represented here in Zimbabwe or that have got major shareholding here in Zimbabwe, provide support to the youth not necessarily confining it to the Youth Empowerment Bank or to the Women Bank. They do not have the capacity to be able to go and raise deposits on the market. The big banks that we have in the country, be it CBZ, Standard Chartered, Barclays, they have got the capacity on the strength of their balance sheets.
If we say let us confine ourselves to supporting our youth or supporting our women on the basis of the two banks that we have put up for them to be able to benefit from, it will be a bit expensive on the part of traders to be funding those banks in terms of deposits. Over the years, these two banks - the Women Empowerment Bank and the Youth Bank have not been able to go to the market and raise enough deposits for them to be able to on-lend to the customers. I thank you.
+(v) HON. O. SIBANDA: Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir and good afternoon. I would like to add my voice to what others have already submitted with regards to the Budget presented by Hon. Minister Prof. Ncube. I would like to thank him with the Budget that I think would assist the country going forward. I would like to add my voice with regards to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture with special focus on the Empower Bank. The money allocated to the Empower Bank, I think Empower Bank is the micro-finance, so if it is micro finance, the Minister knows that the interest rates charged by micro finances are too high but why is he not making it easy for the youth to benefit? Looking at the employment and empowerment of youth, the money they are allocated under loans attracts high rates. Is it not possible to have these loans changed from loans to grants?
The same should also apply to the Women’s Bank because if it is given out as loans, those monies end up not being paid. If they have been given $500 million, this amount is supposed to be loaned to people with high interest rates yet it should empower women. So it should be grants instead of loans. Still on the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture, right now money allocated to this Ministry is not enough. It is a quarter of the money they had budgeted for. They are tasked to look after the National Sports Stadium. I think this stadium should have been given its special allocation, not to have it included on the Ministry’s budget because that stadium requires more money for its refurbishment. Still on the same Ministry, the money allocated to vocational training centres is not enough to refurbish theatre centres, it is not even enough to cater for artists.
Looking into agriculture, that is dams - if Hon. Prof. Ncube allocates so much to agriculture, at times he should be precise. For instance in Vungu Constituency, there are dams that do irrigation like Shangani. That money should be allocated to that particular dam so that we are able to do monitoring and evaluation for the Government projects that we will be doing. If this is given as a blanket allocation to agriculture, most areas will not get any allocation and priority would only be given to those dams that have collapsed dam walls for instance.
This is why I am saying there should be a targeted approach. On the devolution funds, it is a good approach brought about by the Second Republic. We are grateful for that but the allocation, for instance in Vungu Rural Council, last year we were given $133 million but what we physically got was $60 million. The remainder of the money is not brought forward to the budget of the following year. So we would have lost but in front of people that we would have informed, we would have indicated that we have been allocated so much yet that money would not have been disbursed to that particular council.
So our wish is that if Vungu Constituency has been allocated $133 million, let us have the whole amount disbursed in January or February so that they are able to do all the projects set forth for the year. Looking into the Parliament budget and the Members of Parliament’s welfare and the CDF - right now some MPs are still trying to get CDF yet we are now talking of the next budget and it has been eroded by inflation.
Our wish is that in January and February, CDF should be released and given to Hon. Members so that they are able to work especially those in the rural areas. The Minister promised to resuscitate constituency offices and there will be researchers for the constituency. Therefore, my plea to the Minister is that constituency offices should be built on time so that we are able to work well. Right now, some of us are in rural areas – it is not even clearly indicated where MPs can meet up with the people and we end up meeting them behind the shops, which is what we cannot continue to do because it denigrates our status as the Executive or the Judiciary. We should work in a way that people feel proud in what we do. For instance, seeing that here is an MP coming and he has a proper meeting place and they can listen to him.
I also want to look into the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme. I would want to ask the Hon. Minister to make it a point that there is a follow up to make sure that DDF, CMED and Rural Councils have enough equipment to be able to maintain those roads in good shape; that is proper maintenance. Without monitoring, after such huge sums of monies are put into refurbishments of these roads, all these monies will be put down the drain and this will take us back. My plea is that the Hon. Professor should look into the fact that monies are allocated. Bank charges are too high. Right now if I leave US$40 in my nostro account, by next year March, there will not be any cent because of bank charges, why? The same goes to our Zimbabwean currency, the RTGS. It will be better if the Minister takes that money from the bank charges to help the youth.
I will also want to touch on the cellphone charges – they are charging people too much like ecocash. This is what Prof. Ncube should look into and if possible, take that money to assist Government.
I also want to look into retention fees in parastatals and Government departments. This is the last issue I want to touch on. Look at departments like VID, they make people pay and remain without any money. Registry does the same and all the money is taken to the Reserve Bank system. For instance, VID fails to buy bond paper and ZRP also fails to buy the same paper with all the money that they collect from fines. They take it to the Government funds and are left without anything for their day to day running. My plea to the Minister is that from the money they collect, they should keep 3% to 5% for operation costs. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for this opportunity. I thank you.
+ (v) HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity. I would also like to air my voice on the Budget presented by Hon. Prof. Ncube. There are areas where we are not happy. The Minister indicated that the Minister of Health has been given a certain amount of money but my concern is we need to get that money on time. In most cases, we get money that is less than the one allocated to that particular Ministry. We are suffering here in Zimbabwe. When we get to hospitals, we do not get drugs that we are supposed to be getting. If ever one is supposed to get x-rayed, they are not able to afford them because they are expensive and in most cases they are not working. Therefore, our request to the Minister is that the budget allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care needs to be re-visited so that an addition is considered. Looking at issues to do with family planning, they are not allocated enough. You end up realising that quite a number of children, especially girls get pregnant because they are not able to get family planning that they require.
Mr. Speaker, did the Minister look into the issue concerning those people living in the rural areas with regards to distances that they travel to health institutions? For example, if I am to look at Lupane, people walk long distances to get to health centres. My request is that the Minister should look at getting this money that has been allocated to the Ministry on time and not to give that money after it has been eroded by inflation.
Hon. Speaker, I will also look at the issue of devolution. Yes, councils were given money but my issue is with regards to the small allocation that was given to these councils. He quoted the money in US dollars but they are going to be allocated the money in RTGs, which in most cases is allocated to these councils after it has been eroded by inflation.
Did the Minister also look into the issue regarding the usage of these funds appropriately? The people that are supposed to monitor on the usage of these funds to make sure that the allocated funds are put into good use, the Minister should also look into this issue.
I will also look into the issue of money allocated to the Ministry of Women Affairs - I do not know what the Minister will be thinking of. Women are the ones carrying the country’s economy, if only the Minister could consider giving these women more money so that if women go to the Women’s Bank for loans, they do not encounter challenges with regards to being charged more interest rates. The Women’s Bank is there to support women in order to empower them. However, the money allocated to this Ministry is not sufficient. This Women’s Bank should also be found in the rural areas because the money allocated to this bank is only going to be distributed to those people in the urban areas.
I will also talk of the issue to do with the Bureau De Change, Hon. Minister, Bureau De Changes should be found in the countryside, for example in areas like Tsholotsho, Sipepa, Lupane and not to only in urban areas. Imagine a teacher who is earning very little, he or she will be expected to board a bus from the rural areas to town…-[Technical challenges]- Why is the Minister not making it a point that from this month of December, everyone gets USD because almost every other transaction is done in USD? Hon. Minister, let us all use USD as a transactional fee.
On the other issue that pertains to illegal money changers, why is it that the money that they are circulating is not found in banks, especially with regards to the illegal exchange rate? Let us have a similar exchange rate on the one being used by these illegal money changers.
On the issue of salaries of civil servants – may the Hon. Minister see to it that Members of Parliament have their salaries increased? We are not getting much right now; may the salaries get increased?
On the issue of cellphones, this money that is being said should be paid on cell phones is not necessary because if we are to say an elderly some-day in the rural areas is supposed to pay that figure, where will they get that money from? Right now, we are in the festive season and visitors will be coming from other countries, what is the Minister saying about them? Are they also supposed to be paying cell phone tax? I thank you.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I just wanted to share some of my points but I take note of your guidance that some of the issues have been raised. The first thing that I want to raise is that I am disappointed in this budget because it comes at a time when Government has said that austerity measures have come and gone, that the budget is supposed to be pro-poor. However, when we look at the budget, you realise that Zimbabweans are one of the most taxed citizens of the world. The Minister is proposing new forms of taxes, in particular the unpopular proposal to charge in USD for cell phone taxes. It is really unacceptable at a time when we want to make sure that as Zimbabweans we allow people to have money to consume so that we can quick-start our economy.
The other issue is around austerity measures; we have heard the Minister said that there is surplus money yet our pensioners, those who worked loyally for the country for many years - if you look at the money that they are getting, you will see that they are getting peanuts. That is an insult to all the years of loyal service. As a country, we are doing something very immoral. I want that surplus to be re-allocated to the pensioners so that there is an increase in their monthly stipends.
This point also applies to civil servants, our nurses, our doctors and teachers, they also need a maximum rise. So we are appealing to the Minister to make sure that there is a massive pay rise for civil servants. More importantly, I want to appeal to the Minister to make sure that the budget allocation and budget disbursements, there is no grade disparity because what we learnt in 2021 is that a lot of money was allocated to ministries but by end of September, most of the ministries had not even received 40%, this includes Parliament of Zimbabwe which received less than 40%. So disbursement is a major issue, it makes this budget a mockery as long as we get to the third quarter of the year and ministries have not received even half of the allocation. So in 2022, we want to see a marked difference.
I also appeal to the Minister to work with all the relevant authorities, Reserve Bank to make sure that the hyperinflation that was in the country comes to an end. It is clear that the budget is denominated in RTGs but on the ground in Zimbabwe, everything is now in US dollars. So, hyperinflation is very high. Before we even received the disbursements, whatever amounts we have been allocated has been affected by hyperinflation. So, there is need for the Minister to come up with strong measures to end this situation.
Parliament of Zimbabwe is one of the three arms of the State, then there is Judiciary and the Executive but what we see in the 2022 Budget is a continuation of treating Parliament like a junior partner in the three arms of State. In 2021, Parliament received less than 35% of its due allocation by end of September. It has been crippled in terms of capacity and operation. The Minister must make sure that Parliament gets its allocation on time so that it can play its role as the third arm of State and a legislative arm of the State.
Also in particular, we now know that Parliament has got issues such as CDF, where people in communities are expecting Members of Parliament to come up with development projects that are of high impact. To my surprise, most of the time the CDF that is allocated is very small and it cannot make any high level impact in communities. Even that small amount is not coming on time. So this year we are allocated $2 million each, but it came in the second half of the year and some have not received their CDF allocation as of now. So, most of that allocation has already been affected by hyperinflation.
For 2022, the Minister needs to make sure that it does not happen. Hon. MPs are operating offices, three years after the Minister promised that there will be allocation of funds to ensure that at least they have constituency level offices, support staff, allowances to do their work in constituencies, this has not yet happened. This is crippling the capacity of Parliament to work as the third arm of the State. For 2022, we are challenging the Minister to ensure that this comes to an end. Parliament must be fully empowered. Parliamentarians must be fully empowered to ensure that they play their role in a very effective way.
I also want to highlight issues around high level development projects, for example in Matabeleland North, year after year we have seen that allocation and disbursements towards high level development like the provincial hospitals have been very minimal. I am challenging the Minister to make sure that Matabeleland North finally has a provincial hospital. The progress has been there since you were appointed as Minister but the hospital for Matabeleland North is still yet to be completed. We urge that there be allocation that is going to ensure that finally Matabeleland North has a provincial hospital.
In addition, the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls has become a death trap. A lot of accidents are happening between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls because of the bad state of the road. I am urging the Minister to ensure that funds are allocated to the relevant Ministry to make sure that Matabeleland North does not continue to have a road that is a death trap. If you are travelling along Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road, you will see a lot of potholes and a lot of animals are straying there; a lot of accidents are happening. We want that to come to an end, especially knowing that Victoria Falls is now a city. Victoria Falls is now the tourism hub of the country. We need to make sure that the road is fully restored. We need to ensure that Matabeleland North, which is one of the most underdeveloped provinces of the country does have a chance to help the local economy.
In terms of water supplies, I am also challenging the Minister to make a statement around the Zambezi Water Project. What is the Government project which was supposed to make Matabeleland a green ground of agriculture, which was supposed to boost the economy of Matabeleland? What happened to the Zambezi Water Project? Can the Minister make a position on the Government funding for the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project? Thank you Mr. Speaker.
(v) HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Having noted that a lot of issues have been covered, I just have two issues which I want to raise. The first one is economic development. We have to make sure that there is sound communication. You will find that we have got certain areas, for example in my constituency, where you have 10 wards and only two are reachable. The others, you cannot phone; you cannot get any access. Such areas, I think they need to be considered as dangerous zones because our Vision 2030 says we should not leave anyone behind. Now if we have communities like that, they are definitely going to be left behind.
You will find also, we are talking about the issue of digitalisation which was supposed to have started as far back as 2015. Yes, we are on it but it is mirrored with a number of challenges that have to be addressed. We visited some transmission sites where you would find the infrastructure is there but people are not able to access the facilities which are coming from such infrastructure because they do not have such gadgets as pethlone boxes which should be provided so that their TVs can go digital. This is quite a challenge and in terms of ICT, where we have got no base stations and no facilities like electricity, we still have very serious challenges considering that COVID-19 is here to stay with us. It is quite a threat if we are not going to improve on that. What are our children going to do in terms of learning? What are our communities going to do in terms of accessing essential information? I think we need to look critically into that because information is a basic tool for economic transformation.
Mr. Speaker Sir, we have been talking about BEAM. As far back as 2019, we have been talking about providing uniforms and stationery for the children but this is not happening. Those children who are being affected end up dropping out of school because that is not being fulfilled. I am also a bit disturbed by the continuing falling of the budget for the infants. We realised that our education now has been relying on online learning. Now children in ECD or Grade 1 can hardly have that facility and make use of it meaningfully. Otherwise ICT is more usable for people who are grown up, who are in the senior grades or upper class because they will be having more knowledge, which is required for them to do ICT. Now if we reduced this money as it has happened, it means to say these children that are going to be taught for these years when there is COVID-19 and so on, they are going to be a very difficult generation where they may graduate from infants – it is from infant where we start the actual teaching of a child who will develop later. I thank you.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I will touch on five issues. The issue of ICT was mentioned in the budget, in particular in the Blue Book. The issue of the Gateway solution Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to applaud the Minister, but I want to go further and say may the Minister reverse the deal with GVG because there is no Government capital capex or capital outlay. There are companies which are offering $1 billion to $2 billion advance payment for establishment of a gateway solution which companies are also able to go to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and apply and audit for 15 years which is going to see what was due to Zimbabwe in retrospect Mr. Speaker Sir, which goes into trillions of dollars.
So the companies that we speak to and about are offering US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion advance payment without any lead for collateral or anything from Zimbabwe. I applaud the Minister for realising that establishment of the gateway solution or an International Call Termination Centre is the way to go. US$1 billion, US$1.5 billion is a quarter of our budget.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the second issue that I want to applaud the Minister for is the 20% remittance from third party insurance which does not also take into account those other insurances in the COMESA insurance sector and otherwise but centering on the third party insurance, pretty much along the same line as S.I 47 (2005) that has 12.5% remittance to Traffic Safety Council. I applaud the Minister for taking 20% from third party insurance because for a very long time third party insurance has been used by delinquent insurance brokers and insurance companies to meet their own ends without any benefits to the motorist. It is applaudable that that is going to be used to establish Accident Victim’s Stabilisation Centres first and foremost at all toll gates and also attend to victims of road traffic accidents.
In Chegutu West Constituency, we have established two road traffic accident victims stabilisation centres. I ask that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development takes this money and capacitates such establishments so that we can save 70% of the lives of people that are involved in road traffic accidents within the first hour after the accidents so that they do not die because of their injuries.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am aware that there are about five deaths per day due to RTAs and also 43 injuries per day, which translates to a person getting injured every other 30 minutes potentially being disabled for life. So I applaud the Minister for that. I go further, Mr. Speaker Sir and propose that he applies the stakes in retrospect, even for 15 years on the methodology and on the formula that he is using, that is 20% removed from the money that has not been claimed by RTA or road traffic accident victims. It is a known fact that there is a low rate of claim on the third party insurance. I also propose that he goes to all the insurances. There is insurance for tobacco, health insurance schemes and targets monies that have not been claimed by subscribers. So it is my hope and view that he can actually go further to other portfolio insurances in the same insurance sector because for a very long time, the insurance sector has been having unfettered access, Mr. Speaker Sir.
The third issue that I want to touch on is for the revitalisation, rejuvenation and rehabilitation of our road infrastructure in particular. I applaud the Minister and his Excellency the President Cde. E. D. Mnangagwa in the Second Republic for taking 5% of our national GDP towards the sprucing up of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare highway and embarking on the ERRP using the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. I want to propose that the Minister should not continue to do the same thing the same way over and over again and expect a different result.
I want him to put down his foot and encourage; through a Statutory Instrument - through an Act of Parliament, the mines, large scale mines in particular, to revitalise, rejuvenate to reconstruct and also maintain the roads that they are using in the places where they are mining their ubiquitous amounts of mineral wealth, Mr. Speaker Sir. It is possible and it is only just and it is right for the Minister to do as such. So I call upon the Minister in his budgetary statement, in the same way he proposed the 30% remittance from third party insurance, to make sure he brings to a screeching halt the issue of the unfettered access and plundering of our resources by the large scale miners leaving gaping holes and leaving dilapidated, deplorable, disused and very bad state of our roads, Mr. Speaker Sir, so he can put in a Statutory Instrument. All these that I have mentioned above are all proposals for revenue generation mechanisms.
I also want to go to the fourth one Mr. Speaker Sir. It is on water and sewer reticulation systems. In section 72 (7)(c) of the Constitution, it mentions that the people of Zimbabwe should be enabled to assert their right to learn. Mr. Speaker Sir, the people in the urban areas have not been given this right, because there are laws that are archaic, moribund, rudimentary, antiquated and medieval and such laws are the Urban Council’s Act, Section 205 (7)(1) that mentions that in the urban area, there are three options of disposing of land. One is the one to sell and the second one is to lease, then there is a third and most appropriate one that needs to be aligned to the Constitution, it is for the urban areas to donate that land to would be owners.
What this does is it reduces the amount paid towards Housing Infrastructure development and servicing of that land in the urban areas. I speak like this because there is an Act of Parliament that has given the people in the rural areas land for free, the A1 and the A2. Now it is time for the Minister of Finance and Economic Development so that we can spruce up our water and sewer reticulation system first and foremost by availing the land to the people in the urban areas for free. The land for free so that they pay for the improvements and the infrastructure development.
How is that paid for? That the Minister of Finance and Economic Development makes the Central African Building Society (CABS), National Building Society (NBS), NSSA, Old Mutual and all these other institutions go back to their core mandate of providing mortgage financing so that we can have a pay for your house scheme in Zimbabwe so that we can have financiers and these banks coming in to improve our robust, resilient, active and efficient water and sewer systems, Mr. Speaker Sir including and noting on the list the roads and all other offsite infrastructure development. Otherwise we will continue to have deficiency in clarifiers and sedimenters, these are where raw water is collected, this is where it is clean and this is from where it is pumped in the locations and into the urban areas. The starting point should be an Act or a Statutory Instrument that allows the alignment of Acts of Parliament to the Constitution in the Act that I have applauded, without which we are not going anywhere.
As I conclude, in point number 5, I want to reiterate that with a Gateway solution, and international call-termination sector, what happens is, ZBC gets to be paid for its content that it has created. You remember the…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): Hon. Nduna, you have said that point, I think it was heard, can you conclude please.
(V) HON. NDUNA: You remember the content, the U-tube - content that went viral when the point of madness where Hon. T. Mliswa and yours truly were at each other’s throats, it had about 10 million views. What it means is, the diasporans and everyone outside Zimbabwe is still able to view that content Mr. Speaker, but there has not been any benefit both to Hon. T. Mliswa, myself and to Government. The point I seek to make is, there is content that can be paid for and there are taxes that can accrue to the Minister of Finance through content creation and WhatsApp and all other videos and other areas, especially if we create that international call termination centre. Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to vociferously, effectively and robustly debate on the 2022 budget and also ask that the Hon. Minister gets the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to retain 50% of all the ill-gotten wealth so that they can run their budgetary affairs, I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the presentations made by Hon. Chairpersons in their analysis to the 2022 National Budget which I tabled in this august House on the 25th of November 2021. Allow me also to acknowledge the quality of the contributions made by the Hon. Chairpersons which show that indeed there have been extensive and deep public consultations on key priority areas which require serious attention. These contributions range from the size of the ministerial allocations, the coverage, departments or programmes and other pertinent reform issues. It should be noted that budgetary allocations are guided by the growth in GDP which is projected to be 5.5% in 2022. This is how much within the size of the national cake it is going to grow in real terms, 25%.
Once we do that, we work backwards to work out the amount of revenues that we will then generate out of this growth. From that calculation, we come out with revenue generation capacity of the economy of RTGS880 billion. This is on the back of a very stable tax revenue to GDP ratio of about 17% per annum, that gives us RTGS850 billion. Of course, this is against what the various departments and ministries had requested, which is almost RTGS3 trillion. So the request was way above the capacity of the economy to generate these revenues. You know that we cannot access international capital easily because of the high level of indebtedness - we are not able to access those resources easily. We have to clear those arrears first before we can access. The expenditure ceiling is provided for under respective Votes, they are also a function of the overall projected revenues. Inasmuch as we might want to spend beyond the projected revenue, we have to be mindful of maintaining our budget deficit below the 3% GDP target.
There is a SADC standard which says that the budget deficit within the region must be 3% and below. Therefore, even if we try to spend beyond what the economy can generate, we will never shoot that ceiling and we will be out of line with the rest of our sister countries around us. We certainly cannot afford that. It should also be noted that the 2022 National budget seeks to address key national events such as the national census preparatory work, 2023 harmonized elections and now we have got the by-elections - I guess coming out at some point in 2022. Furthermore, Treasury prioritised effective delivery of various Government ministries by allowing them to fill in vacant posts in spite of the general freeze. We have a freeze but we still allowed certain posts to be filled because this was really critical, especially in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the National Prosecuting Authority, among others - the freeze was waived.
Noting a suggestion by the Hon. Members also to consider the adoption of Public-Private-Partnership as an alternative form of financing the implementation of some critical projects and programmes, Treasury is in full support of this initiative, including the financing of the same programmes through loans where it is possible. So we welcome this suggestion of partnering the private sector through PPPs for these projects to be delivered.
Treasury will endeavour to disburse the allocated resources timeously; this was raised by several Committee Chairpersons and several Members of Parliament that we timeously disburse resources. We will endeavour to do this; the process obviously is a two step process where we do a budget release and then follow that with a cash release and it is also cash that delays implementation because we have to live within the cash that we have collected. Therefore, we are not able to borrow or receive resources from abroad. We will endeavour to make sure that we timeously release these resources. Members have also noted the bad state of some of the Government buildings and offices and the 2022 National Budget will pilot an enhanced maintenance programme targeting the free scale rehabilitation and upgrading of buildings.
I want to come back to the issue around the ICT sector. From the ICT Portfolio Committee and other interventions, there is a plea that we should remove duty on ICT gadgets. I want even to make Members of this august House to know that duty on ICT gadgets was removed a long while ago, whether you are looking at computers, laptops, scanners, printers, bulky computers, computer parts and accessories cordless handsets, base stations, road apparatus, aircraft communication, navigation apparatus, they do not pay any customs duty but they still pay VAT.
The exception was cell phones - for cell phones, there is duty of 25%, it exists. At this point, let me also clarify the $50 levy. The $50 levy is not a substitute for 25%. If the owner of a phone that has been brought in, and it is targeting phones that have been brought into the country, has paid the 25% duty, surely there is no reason for them to worry about the $50 levy because it falls away. If they have not paid the 25%, then it becomes an issue and the presumptive $50 levy applies to them because they have not paid the 25% duty. So the levy is not an addition but just a mechanism designed to enforce the payment of the 25% customs duty. It is an enforcement mechanism not meant to be a substitute.
I am sure you are wondering what we are going to do with revenues collected from the $50 levy, the enforcement levy. Our intention is to ring-fence these resources so as to finance digitalisation which is a long standing programme of Government.
HON. KASHIRI: My point of order is that we lost network when the Minister was discussing about the $50 charge. May he possibly retake that one?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, may you please retake on the $50 tax on cellphones?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: There is a broader point Madam Speaker about removing duty on ICT gadgets, including the cellphones that I will delve deeper into. The customs duty on ICT gadgets was removed a while ago; computers, laptops, scanners, printers, Braille computers, computer parts, cordless handsets, base stations, radar apparatus, aircraft communication and navigation apparatus, they do not pay any customs duty but they still pay the VAT at 14.5%. The exception here is the cellphones. So, the duty on cellphones was 40% a while ago and it was reduced to 25%. Really, there was a reduction in the first place and now we are saying even on this 25%, the compliance is weak.
We want to enforce compliance through this $50 levy. It is a compliance measure rather than a revenue raising measure. That is what this is about. If you have paid the 25%, then you have nothing to worry about. You would not pay the $50 and even if you are forced to, then you can seek for a rebate and get your money back. That is what this is about. It is about enforcement and not extra measure for raising revenue but whatever revenue is raised under these circumstances, we want to ring-fence that for financing the digitalisation project which is way behind in terms of financing.
There is another issue that was raised regarding the request for Treasury to remove export tax on polished granite but I think this was an error in the Hansard. It should be export tax on unpolished granite because there is no export tax on polished granite for it is fully beneficiated. Unpolished granite, there is an export tax which we want to enforce so that we can make sure that anyone who is in that industry exports value added products rather than raw unbeneficiated products. We want to maximise on our earnings.
One or two other comments first raised by Hon. Madiwa regarding the capitalisation of SMEDCO, Women’s Bank and Youth Bank which was raised by many other interveners today, just to assure the Hon. Members that in the budget we have allowed for this provision. We will replenish the capital for these very important institutions.
From the Hon. P. Moyo, the comment focused on the ICT Committee issues which I have responded to. From the Committee on Youth, Sports and Recreation, the issue that stood out was to say we need to evaluate this YET (Youth Employment Tax) incentive programme, we agree with that. We will evaluate to see how well it is working but we are proposing that it should continue because we are not losing money as this is an incentive where the company benefits from a tax rebate if they employ a youthful member of society.
I did not pick out anything striking from the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education. The comment was, we should increase the budget for BEAM, we have done that and we have invested in schools. We have a schools development programme that we have publicised quite a bit. We will upgrade the infrastructure for schooling.
From Hon. Musarurwa, the Committee on Environment and Tourism supporting the tourism sector, that is what the budget seeks to do. We are seeking to continue with the VAT rebates for domestic tourism and things like that, and we will continue to run the guarantee scheme for access to funding for operators in the tourism sector in light of the negative impact of COVID on their businesses.
For the mining sector, again we have been doing a lot in this sector looking at supporting exploration and the idea of mining sector extension services similar to Agritex. We are supporting that programme including matching on the cadastral system and I can assure Hon. Mkaratigwa that we will continue to do that.
For the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Peace and Security, we are focused on making sure that the security cluster is mobile so that there is mobility focusing on cantonment and making sure that their rations are adequate. The idea for a military salary concept has been adopted but we want to make sure that it strengthened because members of the security forces are not allowed to go on strike and therefore cannot bargain. We want to make sure that they are well looked after.
The Portfolio Committee on Information and Broadcasting, the issue that came up was the digitalisation programme and again we will support it. It is a multi-year programme Madam Speaker. We cannot clear it in one year but we will support it this year and in subsequent years. There is a comment from Hon. J. Ncube from the Committee on Public Service and Social Welfare that we should set up a national disaster fund.
Madam Speaker, we already have one which was established which is under the Ministry of Local Government. It works and we made use of it during the Cyclone Idai disaster. So we already have something. I can assure the Hon. Member that we will capacitate it. From Hon. Mpariwa, your comments that perhaps the Budget is not pro-poor enough, we have tried to be sensitive to the social sector through various angles and one is through social security programme which is well described from paragraphs 414 and for about five pages. It is well covered in terms of the social protection programme. Also as we think about that, do not forget about Pfumvudza. It is a production social protection programme. Hon. Markham was lamenting that the oversight function of Parliament needs to be strengthened and so forth. That is why we are here. We cannot pass a Budget without Parliament being involved and without debate. We always come before various Committees of Parliament to express ourselves as Treasury. Other ministries do the same as we go about with our programmes right through the year. So I thought the oversight function was strong. I did not get a sense that it was being weakened at all.
Hon. Charles Moyo wanted to know about job figures. I want to draw his attention to a table on page 65 of the Budget Statement. All the figures are there for the jobs that will be created over the next three years. He also thought that we should present the Budget in US dollars and not in Zimbabwe currecy. No, we will present it in Zimbabwean dollars. That is our legal accounting currency. We will be making a mistake if we are to present accounting in US dollars. We know what happened in terms of losing competitiveness. Do not forget that we went through deflation because of the use of the US dollar and we do not want to go back there. Hon. Watson raised an important issue around the Gwayi-Shangani Dam. In the Blue Book there is a healthy allocation for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project. For the dam itself is ZWL$3.6 billion that we have set aside and for the pipeline, from the dam down to Bulawayo is another ZWL$3.6 billion that we have set aside. So it is quite a sizeable chunk of resources.
Hon. Togarepi raised the issue around more support to be given to SMEs. We are trying through different angles. We are looking at the National Ranch Fund, SMEDCO, Youth Bank, Women’s Bank and all that targets SMEs. So there is a bit focus on that through various financing channels.
Hon. Togarepi also mentioned the issue of dealing decisively with the parallel market. That was the idea with the SI 127 and we want to continue to maintain that because that is giving us the ability to enforce and deal with indiscipline forex market. Hon. Nyabani talked about the need to support our cotton farmers making sure that they are paid in time. I agree with him. A few things happened that should not have happened but we will make sure that we will catch up with the payments. We will support them and we are moving to the concept of a minimum support prize so that farmers can enjoy the full upward gain from Global Cotton prices which are quite healthy at the moment.
Hon. Nyabani also talked about access to electricity in rural areas. I will draw his attention to page 132 and 133 of the Statement. There is a full description about how we will make use of the rural electrification fund to support the rural electrification. Hon. Raidza again mentioned the issue of the cellphone levy and timely budget releases that it is a point well taken, fiscallisation and so forth. The idea of creating a national accident fund, I thought that is what we are doing by ring fencing 20% of the funds from the pooled insurance. That is what we have done but without calling it that, so these funds are ring fenced to deal with accidents as they occur. Hon. Gonese said we should go back to accounting in US dollars. No, let us stick to the Zimbabwean dollar, let us stabilise our currency. Otherwise, we will lose monetary policy capability and we are back to just reliance on fiscal policy and that is not good enough in terms of macroeconomic management. I have also noted Hon. Nduna’s contributions in the ICT sector, the 20% that was set aside for dealing with road accidents. This summarises some of the key points raised by members of this august House. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
FINANCE (2022) BILL [H. B. 16, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Pursuant to the order, I beg leave to present the Finance Bill 2021. This Bill will amend Chapter 1 of the Finance Act, Chapter 23 Section 3 of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act [Chapter14:33] and I move that the Bill be read the first time.
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY
MAIN ESTIMATES OF EXPENDITURE
Second Order read: Committee of Supply: Main Estimates of Expenditure.
House in Committee.
Vote 1 – Office of the President and Cabinet: Z$32 391 219 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 2 – Parliament of Zimbabwe - Z$14 615 082 000;
HON. MUSHORIWA: The amount of money that has been allocated to Parliament of Zimbabwe for the oversight function is not adequate. History has taught us over the past three years that what you see in the Budget is not the money that you get because the allocation level is normally way below that. If we factor the expected inflation, it will tell you that in terms of the amount that we have been given as Parliament, it is actually less than the amount allocated to Parliament last year.
We had the whole night fighting with the Minister of Finance last year when we wanted money for constituency offices which he granted but nothing was released. We are now reaching the end of our tenure without offices. The amount that is allocated is too little.
HON. NDUNA: I know that the Minister’s purse is not very big but as alluded to by Hon. Mushoriwa, this one is a pittance compared to the magnitude of what needs to be done in particular in the 210 constituencies. There has not been delimitation to let us know how many constituencies we are going to have in 2023. This is a 2022 Budget and it is my hope and feeling that if the Minister adheres to the proposal that I gave to him in order that he can apply that 20% in retrospect to third party insurance remittance, that should then be taken to argument the parliamentary budget.
Further to that, I propose he terminates a dead on arrival (DOA) deal between GDV and Zimbabwe Government on the establishment of an international call termination centre. There are companies that are offering better conditions and one condition is that they will advance Zimbabwe with one billion Euros after opening an escrow account for Gateway solutions.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): Order Hon Nduna, we are debating the Vote on Parliament.
HON, NDUNA: Yes, I am talking about Parliament. I know you are on Vote 2 on how to augment its pittance and meagre resources. After receiving that one billion Euros from the said company, he can take that money from monies that were not expected to be received and complement the budget of Parliament. It is a pittance in its form but here is a nation which is able to receive a billion dollars from a PPP arrangement and also get its money 15 years in retrospect from International Telecommunications Union. I ask the Minister to make a firm commitment that he can reverse the GDV deal and make sure that he gets into bed with companies that are going to make our budgetary requirements live again because it is a third of our national GDP but that can be used to complement the parliamentary budget.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: Madam Speaker, my issue is going back to what I have previously said which goes unanswered. There is no use for us to allocate any amount to Parliament if only 30% is going to be disbursed to us. This is the crux of the matter and the meager resources that we are budgeting for here – if we follow on what happened in the past two years, we are lucky if we get 40% of the Budget. Before anyone jumps down my throat about Parliamentarians looking after themselves, it follows that our constitutional mandate to report back to our constituencies cannot be done, number one. Number two; there are numerous workers in Parliament who are grossly underfunded. I thank you.
(V)HON. NDEBELE: Point of order Madam Speaker. Without annoying you Madam Speaker, could you kindly repeat it again that Members must not repeat what has been spoken already, that is where we waste a lot of time?
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that, it is fine – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
(V)HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker Ma’am. I just want to speak about the issue of the Constituency Information Centres.
(V)HON. C. MOYO: Point of order Madam Chair. Thank you. Can we be guided, are you Madam Speaker when you are sitting there or you are Madam Chair?
THE TEMPPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Madam Chair.
(V)HON. C. MOYO: I am hearing Hon. Members saying Madam Speaker, can we be guided accordingly.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Its Madam Chair. Thank you.
(V)HON. C. MOYO: Thank you Madam Chair.
(V) HON. RAIDZA: I wanted to just say something about the Information Centres – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – [HON. NDUNA: Please continue to mute Hon. Labode] – to say if it is possible, maybe our Minister can add something on that because if we divide the amount into our constituencies, it translates to about $1.4 or something and this money I believe it is a bit less to support the good idea that Parliament is having, of establishing the Information Centres. If we look at the budget performance for the previous year, we can see that there was nothing that was released in respect of these offices and even our visits to constituencies.
So, I am pleading with the Minister to say, if the amount can be increased, we are happy with the one for CDF but if this one can be increased, it will be better for us as we have a very big constitutional responsibility of representing the citizens and make sure that we are effective when we are in Parliament. We need real support from our Minister when it comes to these Constituency Information Centres. I thank you Madam Chair.
(V)*HON. R. R. NYATHI: Madam Chair, I do not want to repeat what others have already said. Our Hon. Minister did not comment on all the issues that I said. I think I am the one who spoke on the financing of Parliament. He did not speak about it because in his mind, he did not intend to increase our budget allocation. I explained to the effect that, Hon. Minister Mthuli, if you want your Ministry to be run smoothly, itshould be supported by Parliament and all the ministries are supported by Parliament. The oversight role is carried out by Parliament and there is no Ministry without a Portfolio Committee which exercises an oversight role over it. So, if you calculate this money per constituency, it is not adequate at all…
*THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: We heard you.
(V)HON. L. NYONI: Thank you Madam Chair for the opportunity. I am just going to talk on two issues. The issue that was not raised was on the price of fuel. We have seen fuel going up almost every two months despite the price in US dollars. Zimbabwe fuel has become most expensive in the SADC region.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Is that on Parliament Hon. Nyoni?
(V)HON. L. NYONI: Fuel…
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Nyoni, is that on Parliament because we are discussing Vote 2; the Vote we are at now is on Parliament. Is that on Parliament? – [(V)*HON. GANDAWA: Madam Chair, can I come in? You have called me before] – Order Hon. Gandawa, I will recognise you, I have called you earlier on. Hon. Nyoni, my question is; you are talking about fuel,
(V)HON. L. NYONI: Madam Chair, can I proceed?
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Are you talking about the Vote on Parliament?
(V)HON. L. NYONI: Yes, I am talking about the Budget.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Which Budget, the Vote on Parliament? Because now we are on Vote Number 2 concerning Parliament – [(V)AN HON. MEMBER: Vakuru ava vanenge varikutobva kubhawa ava Hon. Chair] – Order Honourable, that is unParliamentary language.
(V)HON. GANDAWA: Thank you Madam Chair – [Technical glitch] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: It is unfortunate that I cannot hear.
(V)HON. GANDAWA: I hope the Minister is listening to my submission.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Yes, he is here.
(V)*HON. GANDAWA: The figures that we got for our 2022 Budget on the Parliament Vote – there was the use of the GDP deflector of 60.5 but if we look at where the 60.5 is coming from, it is not coming up clearly. GDP deflector measures the price inflation, I am relating this to the Parliament Vote, be it CDF or any other expense associated with Parliament. GDP reflector measures price inflation in an economy which we divide; the nominal GDP by the real GDP multiplied by 100. So, if we look at the figures put in our Budget in relation to Parliament of Zimbabwe. I should get my 2511 as my GDP deflector. They used 60.05 and I worked with the figures that he gave us or the figures that are there, provided by his Ministry. I am getting 2511. What does that mean? It means allocation to Parliament and all the service we expend to that meeting...
THE CHAIRPERSON (HON. MAVETERA): Please can you stick to one language. If you want Shona, stick to Shona and if you want English, then stick to English. Thank you.
(v)HON. GANDAWA: Allow me to speak in English Madam Chair. The GDP deflected that the Ministry of Finance used 60.05. GDP deflector measures inflation in an economy. If you use the GDP deflector to reflect on the price reflection, inflation that we have in this economy we divide the nominal GDP. GDP times 100 and you get 2511. What it then means is what we got as Parliament for CDF or any other associated to the expenses, it is way too far below what we need to get. I would want the Minister to respond in terms of his projections and in terms of his calculations, did we get figures right? Otherwise what we got is far less than what we are supposed to get. Thank you Madam Speaker.
*(v) HON. NYABANI: Thank you Madam Chairman. When the Minister makes a budget for Parliament, does he also look at what other Parliaments are doing or what?
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Thank you very much Madam Chair. I thank Hon. Members of this House for their comments regarding Vote No. 2. In arriving at this $14.6 billion that we proposed that it will be allocated to Parliament for the year 2022 - we have considered several issues like the size of CDF and the issue of visits to the constituencies and the issue of fuel which we discussed at Victoria Falls. We have also considered the issue of establishing offices for the Members of Parliament. The issue of reviewing the salaries and allowances for parliamentarians and staff - all of that was taken into account when we were at Victoria Falls and certain figures were suggested to us. I am not at liberty to discuss them here. Usually they have to go to the Committee on Standing Rules which deliberates all these issues. So something will be done in adjusting these figures and that is what we undertook.
In addition to that what was requested was for Parliamentarians to be allowed to import a second car duty free. We have acceded to that and so we have taken all that into account. The welfare of Parliamentarians, staff of Parliament and the jobs that Parliament has to do in exercising its oversight and legislative roles – we have taken everything in that into account to arrive at these figures. There is very little room for maneuver Madam Chair. Even if we want to top up, where those resources would come from, where should we chop or which Ministry, I am not so sure. So there is little room for maneuver.
We have a specific question about the use of the GDP deflector and so forth. There are two ways to look at that – we do it from a point of view of the GDP deflator or CPI based inflation and depending on what you are trying to achieve, you can use one or the other. The Hon. Member has chosen to use the one that he thinks will strengthen his case. That is okay that is why it is called a debate but we have done this allocation on the back of projected revenues driven by whatever exchange rate we are projecting but also the inflationary pressures that we think we may come through in 2022 and that is what we have done.
It is not that we have chosen the GDP deflector as a guide. We have looked at everything and also the CPI inflation in doing so. I really think that this is a fair allocation to Parliament and what really matters is the timely release of cash. That is the single most important thing but at the same time, we have to allocate a budget and that is what we should propose -the Executive and Parliament should then give us permission to do so by endorsing it. Cash release is the issue and not really the size of the budget. I think the size is adequate. I thank you.
(v) HON. NDUNA: He needs to respond according to my proposal so that he can make a commitment that if the international call technician centre company which can advance Zimbabwe US$ billion, he commits to add some money from that 100 billion Euros Madam Chair. I am sure it is not difficult to make a commitment that if it so happens, it is going to happen like that so that he augments parliamentary budget. Thank you.
(v) HON. MUSHORIWA: I listened to the Hon., Minister’s response which I think the Hon. Minister of Finance should do. Last year when we did the debate on the similar Vote, there was an agreed position that in terms of cash releases to Parliament, that Parliament was to get its money into its account on a quarterly basis to allow Parliament to make decisions on its own without the need for it to wait for Treasury to do the releases. Given what I have raised earlier which has also been raised by the Budget Finance Committee in terms of the allocation and releases for 2021, can the Minister confirm that in terms of the Ministry’s disbursement matrix, when it comes to Parliament, we will certainly be in a position to have these disbursements timeously. Thank
HON. PROF. NCUBE: Thank you very much Madam Chair. If I can respond to Hon. Nduna, I will have to investigate the specific case because it is very specific contract you referred to which he believes if it were terminated with revenues, all those are very useful ideas. I will certainly look into the matter working with the relevant Minister for ICT. Coming to Hon. Mushoriwa, the rule that we agreed SRC which I pronounced here in Parliament at some point still stands that the budget for Parliament should have a three lead time. I commit to that. We will really work hard to make sure we commit to that so that there are no delays in cash disbursements but cash is available three months in advance. Thank you.
Vote 2, put and agreed to.
On Vote 3 – Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare - $19 477 330 000
(v) HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker. The issue of that budget speaks to the call of the pension funds. I have already asked the Minister of Public Service if the money for pensioners which were held in trust by the public service and the pension houses in terms of pensions. It can be given all at once before the beneficiaries die. Madam Speaker Ma’am, I have not requested for augmentation of that budgetary allocation but I have requested that there be established a statute and statutory requirement that with the life expectancy that is currently hovering around 45 years, people should enjoy their pensions whilst they are still alive. Give them their pensions on the date that they retire. There is need to put in a regulation or a statutory requirement to that effect. The gold finger who is the Hon. Minister of Finance is in the right portfolio to establish such a statute as the resident Minister for Finance.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. My debate on this Vote has to do not necessarily in terms of the figure because the Minister will tell you that I cannot stretch the pen. It is actually on a matter of principle. Hon. Minister, you will see that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare claims that in 2021, they actually assisted a number of kids with monies under BEAM. There was also assistance in terms of the social welfare.
On a matter of principle Hon. Chair, do you not think that it is better to serve 10 people but giving them a sufficient amount of money that can sustain a family rather than to serve 100 people but giving them a pittance? In other words, what I am saying is, is it not better to have 10% sharing an elephant rather than have 100 sharing a rat in terms of the figure? The amount of money that we are getting, right now if you go to schools, in terms of the students who are on BEAM and the arrears that are there, something is amiss. We need to have a situation where schools can properly function without having Government as the biggest debtor of these schools. Hon. Minister, without necessarily affecting the amount that you are proposing in the Budget, the question is purely on a matter of principle. Are we too generous in terms of allowing too many people whom we are failing to cater for or we need to have a system that allocates sufficient amount to a few selected people rather than selecting many people and then fail to give them anything that can sustain them?
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am. I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions, starting with Hon. Mushoriwa. He basically addressed an issue of execution rather than allocation. So if it is execution, if his idea is that we should target fewer people and we give them more than to spread the cake around and everyone has very little and they do not get much relief that way. Those are value points that I would then pass on to the relevant Minister so that the execution could be better felt by the recipient on these resources on the ground. Those are welcome ideas. I thank you.
Vote 3 put and agreed to.
On Vote 4 – Defence and War Veterans Affairs - $61,553,280,000;
HON. MUSHORIWA: Can I get clarification from the Hon. Minister in respect to this. Again, it is not the question of the proposed budget but I just need an explanation from the Hon. Minister because what we have seen over the past two or three years is that the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans tends to overshoot its budget. I wonder whether the problem is with the line Ministry in that they fail to come up with a proper focus or the problem is with Treasury in that when they consider the Budget, they forget certain things and they tend not to be learning. It cannot be year in year out that we find this Ministry overshooting the Budget. I just wonder where the real problem is Hon. Minister.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. I thank the Hon. Member for the contribution. I think one issue that continues to challenge us when it comes to the welfare of our security cluster is cantonment housing and mobility. We have a huge backlog in terms of vehicles that they get. Coming to cantonment, we have specific barracks which we know need to be fixed. The living conditions are not right. It is these kind of things that end up pushing up the budget when it comes to execution, the gap is so huge but we are determined to close it as we move forward. The issue is about the capital budget. That is what is driving the Budget upwards. Thank you.
Vote 4 put and agreed to.
On Vote 5 – Finance and Economic Development – US$64,573,566,000;
HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, in terms of the Finance and Economic Development Ministry, I want to zero in, in terms of ZIMRA, the budget that is given to the guys that make it possible for us to raise the money. Hon. Minister, there has been a general complaint. We all know that our borders are porous. We are also aware that there has been a commitment in terms of the drone project and that ZIMRA has told us it is actually going on.
Hon. Minister, you are also aware that ZIMRA for the past two years, in terms of their quarterly target, they have been suppressing those targets. Challenges that we then hear from ZIMRA employees is that there is no due respect or due recognition of the good work that ZIMRA employees are doing. That the Ministry of Finance is also failing to adhere to the provisions of the ZIMRA Act, which specifically allows ZIMRA to retain a certain percentage of the amount of money that they get and also a certain percentage of the excess amount that they get over the target that the Ministry could have set. I am actually saying Hon. Minister that if that can be done, it may possibly help in terms of stopping some of the corrupt activities that we see on the borders and the negligence that we sometimes see. That could result in huge increase in terms of the revenue of the fiscus. I am just wondering what the position is in respect to that issue Hon. Minister.
(V)HON. GANDAWA: I just want to concur with the word that was started by Hon. Mushoriwa. As a country, we are developing and it is quite important that we get to resource ZIMRA. If you look at the way ZIMRA is working at the moment, for them to be able to get resources that we so need as a country, I think it is quite key that they are given capacity. If you look at the motor vehicles that they are using, general staff welfare issues, you then ask if all things are in order. I would pray for a day and a night when ZIMRA is capacitated so that when they go out to collect, they collect the maximum for the benefit of Government. It is of no use for us to come to Parliament and discuss about allocations of money when that money is not there.
When you go for hunting as a hunter, you go and hunt with your own dogs and if you go and hunt with dogs that are so disabled, ordinarily a dog has got four legs. So if you go with a dog that has three legs, that dog will not catch an animal. Hon. Minister, capacitate ZIMRA so that when they go and collect revenue, they are doing it to the fullest. Once ZIMRA is able to go and collect the fullest and close all the porous along our borders, shut down all the nitty-gritties, the funny things that are happening in industry, once ZIMRA gets to collect, you will be able as a Ministry to then finance all the other ministries because you will have the money. The biggest problem that we have as a country, we make allocations but money is not there. So, as long as you do not have money to give to the ministries, things will not flow in the right direction. Therefore, may the Hon. Minister get to capacitate ZIMRA as much as you can within the confines of the law? I thank you.
(V)HON. RAIDZA: I would like to urge the Minister to sufficiently resource the department of the Accountant-General and the Budget office. The two departments should also work together because as Parliament, we are always looking forward to them in order to see the transparency and accountability in terms of management of the budget is well monitored. I thank you.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Chair. I just want to buttress on the issue of capacitation of ZIMRA. The issue also dove- tails with trying to raise tax to 30%. When it comes to that office, every company has to put in and if ZIMRA is not capacitated we have a major problem, we cannot be taxed 30% of ZIMRA by three months. May the Hon. Minister confirm that the budget is adequate because the Ministry of Finance is one of the serial over-spenders on the budget? I thank you.
(V)HON. NDUNA: Madam Speaker, the IPEC, that is the Insurance Sector and the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe predominately falls under the Ministry of Finance because of its financial and insurance nature. I ask that he proposes a forensic audit in so far as it relates to money that has not been claimed by insurance payers. He will find a pool where he can get resources to finance the borders, that is ZIMRA in the borders so that it can deploy drones in order that it patrols the border areas to avoid and completely annihilate the scourge of delinquent behaviour and porous borders that are going to inhibit and prohibit us from getting the revenue through duty which is then going to go into the Central Revenue Authority.
I have proposed a financial place where he can get some money in order to capacitate the Ministry of Finance which is the gold finger. I thank you.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: When we look into the Ministry of Finance, ordinarily there are three fundamental offices that are crucial - your office Hon. Minister, the office of the Secretary and the office of the Accountant-General. I want to raise this because Hon. Minister, you did your inaugural speech in 2018, you came forcefully and we were so happy when you said talked about the commitment of Government in terms of migrating from cash account to IPSA and that monies were going to be put in and we were going to see progress.
However, what has happened and which we need you to probably comment on, we have been operating without a substantive Accountant General for some time and consequently, the issue of IPSA is actually moving at a snail’s space. When I look into the way the budget is, I am also sure, I know that the majority of funds are coming from Development Partners. So, can you confirm to this august House that as a Ministry, you are still committed to the IPSA or you have decided to take a detour for the time being?
(V)HON. A. NDEBELE: I just have one or two points regarding ZIMRA. Our last visit to the Plumtree Border Post revealed that the only scanner they had, had been taken to Beitbridge because the Beitbridge scanner broke down. Is this budget adequate enough to resource our border posts in that direction? We also noted as the Mines and Minerals Committee that the scanners they have were unable to detect gold that is smuggled through the border post.
Further on, the question of resources for ZIMRA, we noted with concern that this outfit is grossly understaffed. Clearly, ZIMRA has to share computers and we also noted with concern that they have gone for two to three years without getting new uniforms because every time they go to tender, the rates change and affect their budget. Are we good enough with the figures the Ministers have given us to take care of such issues? I am an ardent believer of the fact that bad money chases away good money. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions starting with the ZIMRA. They are basically saying that we should allocate adequate resources for ZIMRA to do its work effectively. I believe that in this budget, we have tried hard to do that, I am fully aware of constrains in ZIMRA. I have had extensive discussions with the Acting Commissioner-General as well as the board. Quite glaring issues around the mobility of their vehicles, even accommodation for officers around the borders. The issue of uniforms, equipment, I am fully aware of these issues and we are dealing with them to make sure that they are perfectly well. The drone programme which also involves other agencies aimed to make our borders more secure and reduce smuggling is underway and we are at a stage to contract some specialists, so that that programme takes off in a short space of time. I must thank ZIMRA staff for their hard work in producing these revenues that we all been doting about and are keeping us going in terms of funding programmes. When it comes to bonuses, their bonuses are paid upon meeting certain targets. So we are quite up to date with those payments but we will strive to make sure that their welfare is improved.
Hon. Markham asked whether this budget is adequate for Treasury, likeall the other Ministries, it is not adequate but I cannot do anything about it because we have a small cake to share. I think it is my turn to whinge as well to say, how the staff of Treasury dare allocate this pittance to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. We all have to share this tight cake of about $850 billion. We will try to live within our means. We just have to do that like everybody else, frankly.
Hon. Mushoriwa, you talked about the issue of IPSAS, this programme is on. It has been a bit slow because of COVID-19 challenges that we faced. It is still our intention to fully migrate to Asset Based accounting over time. You talked about the Accountant General, we are actually looking for a full time Accounting General in terms of filling that post. It is not easy to attract experienced professionals in that kind of position because you are paid more in the corporate sector and various accounting firms as partners. That is our competition but I think it might be necessary to basically maybe apply the principle salary to the holder so that it is personalised as opposed to a grade. That is the way perhaps to deal with this and make use of our retention fund as well.
Hon. Ndebele talked about broken down scanners and so forth, we are fully aware of these challenges and we are supporting ZIMRA with access to foreign currency to import the necessary equipment to be able to scan whatever goods are going to cross our borders. You mentioned issues of under staffed and uniforms and so forth, we are working with ZIMRA to make sure these issues are resolved. We will support them as much as possible. I thank you.
Vote 5 put and agreed to.
On Vote 6 – Audit Office - $3 014 099 000.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. Hon. Minister, I am going to ask you in this Vote for an increase of allocation to the Auditor-General. Maybe it should be around $2 billion and I will explain why. First and foremost, you appreciate that with the COVID-19 and other challenges, the Auditor-General’s office has actually been incapacitated. You earlier on talked about the challenges in recruiting the Accountant-General in terms of remuneration. The same challenges are facing the Auditor-General (AG), in order to get full professionals to fully continue to remain with the Auditor-General’s office, it has become a challenge.
Secondly, Hon. Minister, there is also another big challenge, the devolution funds that are now being given to provincial councils, they also need to be audited by the AG. This is in addition to the Ministries fund account, the local authorities and also the State Enterprises. Now, if you look at that amount, this amount will not do justice to the Audit office. I want to zero in, in terms of the other issues - you really need to give the AG a billion on the financial and combined audit; then the value for money, performance audit we allocate another $500 million. The reason being that we really need to have value for money because it is not important to just give money but when we do not get the real value, is it not benefiting our people?. Another $500 million should actually be given to forensic and special audits. Hon. Minister, you appreciate the need for these forensic audits and I am asking that $2 billion you could possibly take it or withdraw from the unallocated reserve. This is crucial, given what we want to achieve as a country, in terms of transparency and accountability.
As I indicated during the debate, Parliament relies on the AG’s office. If the AG’s office, catches a flu, it also means that as Parliament, we sneeze. The Public Accounts Committee cannot function, even the other Portfolio Committees cannot function. So this is my request that let us re-look. If you check on the budget, you are giving them roughly 0.3% of the budget. I am aware that they had requested for 0.75% and as Parliament, for the past three years, we have been asking you Hon. Minister to say why do we not move the budget for the AG to at least 1% of the budget. Even if we move it to $2 billion, it will still be less than 0.5% of the budget. The $2 billion can actually help the AG’s office to function properly. I thank you.
HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Let me begin by thanking Hon. Mushoriwa because he has taken some of my points, like special audits. So I will not even talk about them. I think the House must realise that we rely, as a nation, on the Auditor-General’s performance in terms of input and uncovering some of the financial outflows. Having said that, you may realise that even within the discussions at Victoria Falls, ICT acquisition in the AG’s office needs to be done like yesterday. There is virtually rotten equipment. Furniture, they do not have. They also need to rehabilitate that particular Barrow House, where they hardly have a parking space. It is not attractive; hence we continue to lose staff.
It is my humble submission that the Minister looks again at the budget of the AG’s office because we all rely on it. Parliament, all departments and the nation looks at the AG, in terms of actually unpacking most of the evils that are happening in Ministries, departments and parastatals. I thank you.
(v) HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to add my voice on the Auditor-General’s report. Can the Minister take cognisance of that fact and that means the AG’s office is going to need to output a lot more for them to be able to work. Furthermore, the AG’s office this year received 30% of the previous Vote. The performance of the AG’s office, internationally is reviewed as to how we are handling our – probably our biggest cancer, which is corruption. So, I urge the Minister to re-consider this Vote. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam Chair. I thank the three Hon. Members for their contributions;Hon. Mushoriwa, Hon. Mpariwa and Hon. Markham - basically regarding this vote for the Auditor General’s Office. They are arguing that we should increase it because they believe this office is performing a very important role in making sure that things are done properly within Government.
If you look at the draw-downs in 2021, we found that the office was unable to make substantial draw-downs in this budget largely due to COVID, but we always stand ready to support that office in any case if they run out of money, but I must say upfront, I am not very comfortable taking $2 billion unallocated reserves and immediately allocate it to the department. We have learnt a painful lesson in the last two years that if you tamper with the unallocated reserves upfront, we will run into trouble during the year and we learnt a painful lesson this year where we had to literally spend the entire unallocated reserves for the payment of farmers who had worked very hard this year, on the back of good rains, had delivered their maize at GMB and then we found ourselves having to use unallocated reserves to pay for this maize.
So I am very wary of tampering with our reserves, I am going down; insurance budget which is unallocated reserves because we will get some other shock that we never even thought about or who knows, maybe it will be a 6th, 7th wave all in one year and we need these resources. I am a bit reluctant therefore to allocate immediately $2 billion, but I must say I commit that should the department find itself short of the budget, we stand ready to give them extra budget from the unallocated reserve. I thank you.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: Madam Chair. The Minister has just said because of COVID, the Auditor General’s Office did not take on funds. My question very simply is, why were the funds not then reallocated to capacitate the office with vehicles, offices and computers? I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Raise your hand Hon. Mushoriwa if you want me to recognise you.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: Sorry Madam Chair. Madam Chair, the Hon. Minister has actually re-emphasised our point, the need for demand. Part of the problem that we found with the Auditor General’s Office is the inability of the audit team to off remote because they do not have the gadgets; they do not have the machinery, the tools of trade and I hear the Hon. Minister’s challenges in terms of the model from the unallocated reserves of the $2 billion, but I am actually therefore persuading the Minister to simply say if you cannot allocate $2 billion, but at least you could just actually allocate, let us say half of that $2 billion and I will tell you why Hon. Minister. If the current fourth wave that were experiencing goes on and we then get another fifth wave, what would happen is that we will now have a challenge.
Right now the Auditor General’s Report, we had the 2019 report which came this year, we have not received the 2020 report and she is supposed to very soon because end of December 2021, we will be done. She will now need to work on 2021 account. So she already has got two arrear years and that Hon. Minister, calls for urgent emergency. This is the reason why I want to persuade you Hon. Minister, to simply say inasmuch as you have rightly alluded that you do not want to tamper much on unallocated reserves, but this is a special plea that this office, please Hon. Minister, give them at least $1 billion so that this office can function. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank Hon. Markham for his comments and Hon. Mushoriwa, likewise, on the same issue. Now on the issue of why the budget was not then used for vehicles, of course a request has been made for us to consider the vehicles. That has to be made, but also we do use what we call programme based budgeting. Also, we have to be sure that the monies can be viremented in that way where something that was set aside for a specific purpose, those resources are then transferred to buying vehicles, but there should be a request. We are happy to entertain that request and support that.
From Hon. Mushoriwa, I must say I am still not persuaded whether it is half a billion or two billion. Let me say that we always stand ready to support the Auditor General’s Office. I think they should use the $3 billion as quickly as they can if that is the case indeed and then when they are short of money they can approach us, we are ready to top up, but I am not willing at this stage, to start cutting back on the unallocated reserves. It is very dangerous. That is my experience in the last two years. I thank you.
Vote 6 – office of the Auditor General - $3 014 099 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 7 – Industry and Commerce - $3 879 548 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 8 – Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement – $124 049 100 000;
HON. MARKHAM: Madam Speaker, you are going very quickly here. Can I just come in on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement? Madam Speaker, can the Minister explain to us. He talks about privatising the advancement of loans to farmers and we see these loans from CBZ, but we have underwritten it. As a Government, we are liable for those loans. Can the Minister confirm that the bank concerned has done a proper ‘Know Your Client’ and can the Minister confirm what his intentions are with future loans from banks and Government guarantees? Thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: I just want to also buttress the issues that have been raised by Hon. Markham in terms of the loans that as a Government, we have guaranteed to CBZ and companies where the rate is around 22% and the argument that I want to raise with the Hon. Minister is to simply say, what is the endgame in terms of agricultural financing. Is there anything wrong with the mode of financing?
I raise this primarily because the Minister will know that if the strategy simply remains in form, we gave the farmers inputs, fuel and nothing happened. We also tried through the RBZ to give these farmers some equipment then we also tried Hon. Minister, that they go to banks and borrow money from banks and you will recall that some of them are the reason why the banks created. You actually have been creating havoc on the package book of the bank. Now we then turn to the Command Agriculture, Minister you know the amount of money that we will need to equip the agriculture; you then came last year and said you changed the model, it is now the bank ,you are now advocating people to go through the bank but it has been Government guarantee. If we are to have 22% compliance, meaning that you have got a potential 75% of potential bad debtors, what is the thinking of Treasury in terms of the model of agriculture financing as we go forward in this country? I think agriculture is crucial and important for a nation but we need to be very careful because we may continue to lose a lot of money year in and year out.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the two Hon. Members for their interventions, the mode of model financing agriculture that we are pushing forward to as Government is a model funding that is private sector led. That is what we are transitioning towards full private sector led agricultural financing model. After all, the meat programme or the farmer command is a commercial agricultural programme and therefore, it is only fitting that the commercial banks are financing this programme. We also understand that there needs to be a transition and that transition is to make sure that Government stands behind the borrowers through this guarantee to the banks so that there is a transition period, it cannot be a big bang approach and that is why we are going through right now and I think that should answer Hon. Mushoriwa’s question about the model going forward and there will be participation of other banks going forward, from the burden and the risk is shared right across our banking or private sector.
Let me turn to the issue of how a guarantee is called. A condition that is clear on our agreement with the financial institutions is to only call the guarantee as a last resort but not as a first resort. So being a last resort action, the bank must be able to show that it has applied its best effort to collect from a client who has defaulted and failed and they are now seeking relief from Government by calling that guarantee. It is that clear; we are working very well and making sure that they enforce that kind of understanding. The Ministry of Agriculture is doing its part of making sure that they send Agritex officers on the ground to monitor the farmers and to make sure that there is no side marketing. That is our biggest problem to stamp on that they are doing that. I believe that when it is all said and done, we will be in a good space.
You can imagine anyone who has not paid back their loans last year; the bank will not take them on this year. So people are self blacklisting themselves, they find themselves out of that bucket through their behaviour and it deals with the adverse selection programme which you will typically face when you have a guarantee scheme. I thank you very much.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: The Minister said the last resort of guarantee which I certainly and I am happy about. What is the difference between the first call, second and the last call because there is now traceable involvement in all these guarantees. Secondly, we seem to be using one single bank, the CBZ. Can the Minister clarify why other banks are not being involved?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: We are using more than one bank guarantee that has been issued to AFC bank as well and the programme is expanding. He refers to the issue of title and so forth and land, I cannot address this issue through this Vote for the Ministry frankly, but that is a much broader conversation about their bankability and so forth. That is an ongoing administrative if not legal issue, which I am not sure I can address through a Vote allocation for this Ministry but we are making progress even on those discussions of making sure the lease is bankable. There is a sense of transferability perhaps which we then confer values which banks could be happy with in terms of their finance and therefore if there is need for Government to extend their guarantee to a bank.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: I asked on the tradable title, that is not the issue. The issue was - what is the difference between a first, second call and last resort when you are calling in a loan if there is no tradable title. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: A typical borrower will be someone who has other assets that the bank can call upon. That should be the first resort before they call on to the Government to cover them by calling that guarantee. They have other assets, after all these are commercial farmers; they are in business and they have other assets that the bank can call upon before they call on the Government guarantee.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: Sorry, how do you get the collection from loans if you are still owed from other assets? I thank you.
HON. PROF. NCUBE: Thank you very much. That is exactly what we have asked the bank to do, to use every effort to increase their collection including following up on the assets owed by the defaulting farmers. I thank you.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: Hon. Minister, when you signed the guarantee with the bank, I want the Hon. Minister to confirm whether in terms of advances in terms of the quantum, you know it from the banking sector because you know that there are certain amounts that you know banks normally operate from certain limits, to say this limit, the bank can actually do what they want or this level can be done at branch level or this needs a board. Where there are any amounts of money that as a Government you would actually set so that at least there is no order that you as a Government you say above this certain limit, banks cannot just lend to their clients without the Government being the guarantor. I raised this issue primarily because knowing our Zimbabwean crimes from a bank point of view, most of the people that have actually borrowed huge amounts do not have assets specifically in their names and Government will own up on this debt. I am just wondering whether there were mechanisms that Government were involved in huge amounts of money that is lend to individuals.
HON PROF. M. NCUBE: From the banks that we contracted with, these banks have got a Risk Management Committee, Credit Committees both within management and then also at board level. There are several lawyers of risk management that are found in a typical commercial bank and these structures are also enforced by our delegated regulator, which is the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. So there is no need for Government having extended a guarantee to poke into the internal processes of a bank when we have got all these internal regulatory mechanism including the Central Bank. We did not see the need to poke into that, but we are very clear that our guarantee is the one that should be called upon only as a last resort. The institutions would have to come before us and show that it has applied best effort in collecting the loan before they can call on our guarantee. That issue is clear. Can you imagine Government going to every bank to check if its responsibilities and processes are in place? I do not think that is how you want Government to operate.
*(v)HON. RAIDZA: My question to the Minister regards the proposal on grain purchase for $25 billion. I just want to find out if that will be sufficient in terms of his projections on the required tonnage because our agriculture budget should not shoot too much beyond what is budgeted for grain purchase. So will that be enough to support the whole country for the coming season?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I believe that the $25 billion is fair because we also expect the private sector to participate in grain purchases where once one has been paid for grain and it goes to GMB, those who need it and wish to process it as private players, the millers that is, they buy that grain then the fund is replenished. So, that action of creating that loop between Treasury, GMB and the private sector and millers’ purchases has allowed us to come up with an arrangement where all you need is this $25 billion which we think is fair in terms of grain purchases. We think this will work well going forward.
(v)HON. HAMAUSWA: I would want the Hon. Minister to clarify basing on what transpired in the last agricultural season. What percentage the private sector played in terms of helping in purchasing the grain from the farmers. This is because when we are going around the country, we are realising that the farmers are still owed. Maybe the Minister would want to take that into account that at the moment, the private sector is facing some challenges which the Minister of the Government has not looked to. So relying on the private sector might yield nothing without solving the problem our farmers are facing.
HON. PROF. NCUBE: We are working very well with the private sector especially on the wheat front where the private sector has agreed to buy 100 000 metric tonnes on this kind of model that I described. I am not aware of the challenges that the Hon. Member is referring to but we have a good working relationship with them. I am aware of the issue around maize which was a pricing issue where the market price was actually lower than the GMB price and that made it difficult for the private sector to buy the maize at that level when they could buy cheaply in the market. The issue really is just getting the price or making sure that the gap between the market price and the gazette producer price is narrow enough for the private sector to feel comfortable. We are working with private sector on that and do not foresee any difficulties.
Vote 8, put and agreed to.
On Vote 9, Mines and Mining Development - $3 020 9937.00;
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: I just need the Hon. Minister to confirm the aspect of the value addition in respect to our minerals. When we talk of a $12 billion mining industry but if we were factor in the value addition and we do not see in this budget their tax band Minister to cut in the urgency of value addition in terms of our minerals. From 2019, …
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Mushoriwa, the issue is we need to understand that certain ministries have to bring in their programmes that they want. If the Minister did not speak of a programme which is value addition, it is not up to the Minister of Finance to be able to do that. The Minister of Finance will only be working within line items of programmes that have been stipulated in the Appropriation Bill and also programmes that the Minister would have stated. For us to be giving suggestions to the Hon. Minister yet it is not his portfolio, I think we are now misinformed. He can only speak of programmes. Let us look into the Appropriation Book and then we look into programmes that the Minister would have done. If it means it has to be a recommendation coming from the Portfolio Committee and then the Minister would be able to bring it in. When he brings it in, then it is part of the budget unless we are now having a discussion which is policy based. For now, we need to stick to the budget, programmes and look at the Appropriation Bill so that we can be able to look at those programmes and we can negotiate in that way.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: I think the missing link and maybe the Hon. Minister knows where I am coming from. The Hon. Minister will recall that in 2019 when he brought the Finance Bill, part of the adjustment which was done in that Finance Bill was to prolong the question, for instance, the platinum industry or miners who were given the leeway up to 2021. Now, we are ending 2021 we do not see in place when we look into the Ministry of Mines in terms of this value addition and there is no commitment even if you then look into the budget statement that the Hon. Minister presented. What I am simply asking Hon. Minister is to simply say because this is a revenue generation model, to then say what is the Government position in respect to this issue of value addition of our platinum and other minerals, given that we are now ending 2021 and we should have been seeing some progress.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Mushoriwa, this is exactly what I am saying if I look at these programmes that we have for now. There are six programmes under the mines and mining development which does not include that. I totally agree with certain suggestions that you are giving me, which is very much commendable but for the purposes of this budget conversation, let us stick to what is there on the Appropriation Bill and we can guide each other. As far as this year 2022 Appropriation Bill, that aspect on the programmes for the Ministry is not there.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: My issue with the budget is that I see that the budget is mute on the company called Kuvimba which is taking up assets and it worries me that this is happening and the Ministry does not even mention it. The second issue which I would like to ask the Minister is, can he explain to us the issue of selling shares or part- privatising or going into PPP with Fidelity Printers and the assets reflecting under this Ministry.
HON. PROF NCUBE: The issue of Fidelity is still ongoing and those who have expressed interest to buy into the company are still doing their due diligence. They said they wanted time to know who else is involved. We will give them time. There is no rush on the transaction because they have to pay so they need to feel free and be satisfied that they are doing the right thing. We will report once real progress has been made. For now, they are still doing due diligence and they want time doing that.
Kuvimba is a company owned 65% by Government entities which involves the Civil Service Pension Fund, Farmer Compensation Fund, National Venture Fund, Sovereign Wealth Fund and the fund under IPAC for the compensation of pensioners and the fund under the DPC – Deposit Protection Corporation for compensation of depositors. All these are necessary things that Government has to cover and we felt that one way to do it is to cover them through assets that Government owns. We have been very public about this. As I speak, next week we should see the first check being paid to depositors by the DPC for loses due exchange rate movements. Hopefully, the IPAC will be ready and we will do the same thing for a few pensioners who also lost value in their pensions due to exchange rate movements in February 2019.
(v)HON. MARKHAM: Can the Minister confirm that Kuvimba is actually going to compensate all the various companies he is talking of including the farmers, pensioners and so on. Secondly, could he confirm that with Fidelity, the option to take up shares was made public and genuinely and how.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: The Minister will respond to the second part of your question. The first one is out of order.
HON. PROF. NCUBE: On Fidelity, this was made public, that is correct. The responses are still coming through but really we are still hoping that those who have responded saying they want time to conduct due diligence on other investors or the company itself, we have given them that time. We are not rushing this partial privatisation process at all. Let them take their time and be satisfied that they are doing the right thing.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: The Hon. Minister has said this Fidelity thing was done publicly, can he clarify that in terms of whether it also met the procurement comparative schedule analysis and how was it done?
HON. PROF. NCUBE: I would like to confirm that this is not a budgetary issue, Madam Chair.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Let me re-emphasise to the Hon. Members who want to indulge. Let us go to our Appropriation Book and we look at those votes which are there and then we debate on that so that we can stick to the budget and amounts which are there and all the programmes that each Ministry has given to us. Today, I am sorry I have to be very strict because people are online and we need to reach somewhere when the quorum is very much intact.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: Why we are asking on Fidelity is because we have got some other contribution that we need to put on Fidelity because Fidelity Printers have also approached us as Members of Parliament in terms of budgetary financing and when we ask the Hon. Minister to give us an explanation is to enable us to then submit that we want to give under the Ministry of Mines and because the Minister had actually started on it, I think there is nothing wrong for the Minister to just comply and explain to us so that we will be in a position to get the correct position. I am aware Hon. Chair we need to rush this process but I think it is only proper that we get the answers that we ask from the Hon. Minister.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: I totally concur with you because we had that conversation because I was just trying to indulge you but if I look at the Appropriation Book for page 180, I do not see anything to do with Fidelity there so that we can be able to engage. That is why the Minister had to respond that way because now what we need to do is for us to look at what is in the Appropriation Book and be able to debate on that. That is the purpose of this Committee Stage. If ever there are any suggestions, we give the suggestion and it is not about me rushing it but us doing what we should do properly so that at least we do not indulge ourselves into getting involved in conversations which we can do on Wednesday or any other day when it comes to policy questions.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: We hear you Hon. Chairperson but I do not think it will be correct to just look at things that have been proposed by the Hon. Minister. There may also be omissions that we feel should have been corrected. There are certain issues that we might actually need to proffer some solutions that can help the country.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: I totally agree and I am happy to indulge you on that but I am saying you know these processes very well. We first had the general debate where we were supposed to proffer these solutions. Now, we are strictly dealing with allocation. This is the stage that we are at now.
Vote 9, put and agreed to.
On Vote 10, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry - $3 711 362 000.00:
(v)HON. MARKHAM: On environment, I am requesting the Minister to reconsider and think about this. The Ministry, forgetting tourism and hospitality at the moment because of COVID-19 but the Ministry of Environment has a natural disaster on their hands; this being small scale miners and deforestation but also wetlands. When you consider the VAT and that the Ministry of Environment is a serial Ministry for receiving less than 40% of their budget for the last three years. While the budget is correct and if the Minister can deliver on everything that he has budgeted for, there that will be fine. However, the hidden factor here is there are massive laws to be re-written in numerous areas covering Zimbabwe which environment Ministry has to cover and I urge the Minister to reconsider this budget. Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Did you say laws?
HON. MARKHAM: Laws as in changing laws, re-definitions and re-alignment to the Constitution for everything from mining, agriculture, wetlands and general environment definitions.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: On page 198 of our Appropriation Bill there is that provision. I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Did you say laws?
HON. MARKHAM: Laws as in changing laws and realignment to the Constitution for everything, from mining to agriculture and wetlands.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I believe the budget is adequate because when we develop these Bills and laws, the burden is always shared between a specific Ministry and the Ministry of Justice. In this case, you also have the Ministry of Mines that is involved as well. If it is about disasters around mining, you have got three ministries that are sharing the burden in crafting these Bills. If we take the budget for those three ministries, that should be able to cover the demands adequately for new legislation. They will not carry the burden on their own for sure. I thank you.
Vote 10 put and agreed to.
Vote 11 - Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development - Z$60 802 472 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 12 - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - Z$14 877 305 000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 13 - Ministry of Local Government and Public Works - Z$403 965 300 000;
HON. MARKHAM: I would like to point out that for the third year in a row, under Spatial Planning, we are creating a disaster for the future in the context that the Spatial Planning budget, once you take out the ZUPCO mass transport subsidy, there is very little left for spatial planning. We are working with maps right back to 1960 and this is of urgent concern. Can the Minister consider that all subsidies should be on their own Vote because these subsidies are not necessarily run through Parliament? They originate from Cabinet and the Minister himself. These subsidies which are national priority must be alienated so that they do not cover up how much or how little Local Government is getting.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): This ZUPCO issue is a spatial planning issue in terms of mass urban transportation. We believe that it is sitting in the right place. If the question is, did we leave enough budget for planning purposes, that is another question. We are working within the confines of what the Ministry of Local Government proposed to us when we interacted with them. We believe that this figure is appropriate.
HON. MARKHAM: Can the Minister explain how mass transport is a spatial planning issue?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: We are very happy to put it on different line if he is uncomfortable but we have said that for the time being, in terms of the programmes that we have come up with, that is where we will let it sit. We have nothing to hide. We have explained, that item includes the cost of running acquisitions and running ZUPCO transportation system which I believe has gone a long way in alleviating the transport challenges especially within our urban areas.
Vote 13 put and agreed to.
On Vote 14 - Ministry of Health and Child Care - Z$117 749 215 000;
HON. LABODE: I am very disappointed. This $117bn leaves a gap of $104bn from the bid the Ministry put forward. You remember in your statement, you implied that you have allocated 14.9% of the Budget to the Ministry, which was not true. It is very important for you to ring-fence the COVID, $7bn separate from the Ministry of Health because COVID is reflected as a pandemic. We do not know whether we are controlling it. It would be nice for us not to end up diverting funds. We need to increase the budget; we cannot have such a huge funding gap just after coming out of COVID. People are sick and the hospitals are down; that $117bn does not work.
HON. MPARIWA: I am appealing to the Minister to reconsider this figure on the Budget. I say so because you have increased diseases through NCDs which cannot be foretold whether one will suffer from them in one way or the other. We are down from the 2021 Budget to have an attempt to reach the Abuja Declaration. It is my humble appeal that you relook at this Budget. During my debate, I mentioned it that this particular Ministry carries the face of a person including women, men and children. This Budget should cater for everyone if we are to be sensitive and to be pro-poor.
HON. TOGAREPI: I also want to raise my voice on this. Hon Minister, you need to dig deep and look at your back pocket and everywhere else to try and up this Budget. We know you are working within your revenue and it may be very difficult to manoeuver. We are in a difficult situation because of COVID and for us not to fund this Ministry, it will mean we will have staff in that Ministry who are so crucial to the health of the nation disgruntled. I really urge you to look at it. We understand where you are coming from but I think a little bit of flexibility will help improve the situation in the Health Ministry.
(V)HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am. What the Minister of Finance has proposed is to take the 20% from third party insurance. According to numbers, that is US$40 million converted into RTGS annually. That money can also be apportioned towards the health delivery sector as opposed to just being streamlined for RTA victims. I propose that irrespective of that, I ask him to apply that statutory requirement in retrospect. If he applies it immediately, he can take some of that money and also give sanitary wear to our kids, our girl child for free in the same way condoms are distributed. I propose that a portion of the 20% also be attributed to the health care delivery system and the Health Budget if this pleases the Minister.
(V)HON. MOKONE: Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I would like to concur with the previous speakers that the Minister actually increases the allocation for Health because we are in the middle of a pandemic right now and we do not know what tomorrow holds for us. Maybe tomorrow there will be another worst pandemic. So I would like to concur with the previous speakers that the Minister should increase the allocation for the Health Ministry. Thank you.
(V)HON. RAIDZA: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I just wanted to propose to the Minister to say, maybe he can also look into our proposed utilisation of the SDRs and see maybe if we can get something from there. To leave the bigger portion of our support for Health in the hands of donors, I do not think it is good for our country. So I propose that maybe he can look at the back-pocket like what our Hon. Chief Whip has said. Possibly from the SDR, he can increase the allocation on Health. Thank you very much Madam Chair.
HON. MOLOKELE-TSIYE: Thank you very much Chair, I would like to start by expressing my disappointment with the Minister in terms of the percentage amount that he represented last week, especially knowing that it is now exactly 20 years after the Abuja Declaration was signed. Zimbabwe has not, in each and every one of those 20 years, managed to meet its commitment towards 15%. Now, under the COVID environment that we are in, where anything can move from bad to worse, we still cannot increase funding for Health. We cannot afford to have a healthcare infrastructure that is at this stage where we can have a full blown COVID-19 epidemic ravaging our country, especially with regards to our wealth, the welfare of the staff, especially the nurses and doctors. The nurses and doctors are not even expected to continue to leave the country like that in numbers at the moment and going on strike when we are facing the COVID-19 epidemic.
I am challenging the Minister to think outside the box to come out with a better plan in terms of funding health. As Zimbabwe, we claim to be independent and sovereign but how can we be an independent and self-reliant nation when we cannot fund our own healthcare system. Our ARVs are not paid by Zimbabweans, they are paid for by international development partners. We claim to be a wealthy country, striving to be upper middle income by 2030, how can we even talk about that when we cannot even fund our own primary health care services. So I am challenging the Minister to put his money where his mouth is and increase funding for health in Zimbabwe and stop the rhetoric and grandstanding that he showed last week. It is embarrassing for a whole Minister to claim that you are allocated 14 point something percent when all the mathematics clearly points out to 12 point something percent. Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.
(V)+HON. L. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam Chairperson, thank you for the opportunity to debate. Like I had alluded to earlier on when I debated that the Minister should add money allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care because things are not well in this Ministry, he is well aware of this. There are no drugs and blankets in hospitals and even salaries of nurses are very little and the Minister has presented a Budget which is not appropriate. Taking a close look at it, it takes us to 11%. Therefore, the Minister should increase the funds allocated to the Health Ministry because children are dying. The Health Ministry has a number of departments whose paltry allocations are supposed to be distributed to but what isallocated is very little and I do not agree withit Hon. Minister. Thank you Madam Chair.
(V)HON. MARKHAM: Thank you Madam Speaker. Can the Minister explain to us why as of September, only 46% of the Health Budget had been allocated? Is this because we are becoming more and more donor dependent and the donors have come in, bearing in mind within 18 months of the COVID pandemic. I thank you.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you talking of allocated or disbursed?
(V)HON. MARKHAM: We have 46% as on page 48 of the money disbursed for Health and Child Care for this year.
THE CHAIRPERSON: You have said allocated.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam Chair. I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions. Let me start with Hon. Labode who expressed that the Budget ought to be increased; the same applies to Hon. Togarepi, Hon. Nduna, Hon. Mokone, Hon. Molokele and Hon. L. Sibanda. I will then deal with Hon. Markham and Hon. Mpariwa separately. Now, on that first part, you see the COVID response strategy of the Government is multi-ministry and multi-departmental. This also explains why we have got an Inter-Ministerial Task Force that deals with this. So what you find for example is that, when it comes to supplying PPEs, let us say to the police, we give resources to the universities to manufacture that PPE, whether they are sanitisers or masks, which are then forwarded to the police for use.
When it comes to other research, for instance if you look at the research that gave rise to the oxygen plant in Mutare - medical oxygen, that again was financed by the Government through Treasury, through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and then down to Eerify Engineering and then there it is.
What I am trying to say here is that, the response to COVID is not just through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, it is through an entire Government approach. You will find therefore, issues pertaining to the COVID response sitting in other ministries as well and these are coordinated by this Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID. So the Budget we had before you only pertains to the Ministry of Health’s sole contribution to the COVID response effort and not for instance the Budget; the budget that pertains to the police that had to enforce roadblocks for example or indeed, the acquisition of PPEs or the oxygen plant that I referred to earlier. So I believe that this Budget is really adequate in terms of responding to the challenges at hand and as I say, we always stand ready to top up.
Then on the issue of SDRs and so forth, for a start, Hon. Mpariwa, I have actually proposed, something that I said was innovative but I see she is not making any comment on it. We basically set aside some resources from sin taxes and cigarettes and energy drinks to support the provision of services around NCDs the non-communicable diseases. It is the first time we have done this and we think that this is commendable indeed and will go a long way in bolstering the quality of services to sufferers from these NCDs.
On the issue of using SDR for example, we earmarked SDRS to be applied to the health sector for vaccine acquisition for developing and upgrading some of the health infrastructure. This is ongoing and I have asked the Minister of Health to identify very specific projects which SDRS can be targeted in terms of financing and this will do.
Hon. Markham asked about the disbursements to the Ministry of Health this year. Initially the combination of factors, for instance in the infrastructure budget - some has to do with procurement issues or delays in certain projects on the ground due to Covid. So there are different reasons as to why there will be delays in terms of budget disbursements on the ground, but it is what it is. It is 46% and that figure is correct.
I also believe that overally, a figure of $117.7 billion is a good allocation also because when we come to the disease at hand which is Covid, there are other ministries that also need to respond to it as we use the whole of Government approach and not just a single Ministry approach to the response. I thank you.
(v) HON. DR. LABODE: I have an objection. It is not fair for you Hon. Minister to squeeze the whole Ministry of Health in this category of COVID preparedness. I agree it is a brilliant idea that you have set aside money for oxygen or you have given higher education to cushion them by asking them to produce PPEs and the sanitisers – what about the traditional malnutrition for those people? What about the non-communicable diseases and what about the women who are delivering on the floor at Mbuya Nehanda, dying from maternity? Those are still there, Hon. Minister. They were there long before COVID came. That is where I am saying find money for Covid and separate it from this Ministry. My argument Hon. Minister is that I really feel it is very important for you to look at the sector. We are struggling to reach our SDGs because remember also this money you have given us is RTGs and most of our procurements are in USD. Anywhere Zimbabwe has adopted 30 for the Ministry of Health. Give us our first quarter tranche and see what happens because the hospitals are in tatters. We will be back to you. Thank you.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Madam Chair. First, let me start by buttressing the point that Hon. Labode has said. I think it is only fair when you are faced with a crisis like COVID. It is better to have a stand-alone budget for COVID which does not have anything to with health. Let health be a stand alone. We have had the crisis for health delivery constituency in this part of the country. So naturally, I will support that. My fundamental question to the Hon. Minister is on the COVID vaccine. Hon. Minster, you are on record and you told us that you had set $100 million from our own savings for the procurement of vaccines and you had said that time that the money had come from surpluses. That is where you got the USD100 billion.
You also told us that the intention of the country was to reach 60% herd immunity, which would mean that in the USD100 billion will overshoot that 60% immunity. We now learn that from the SDR, there is US$77 million earmarked for COVID vaccination – can you help us in terms of the reconciliation? What is happening there and how many vaccines are we buying or probably it is my misunderstanding in terms of the overall cost of the COVID vaccination because US$177 sounds a little bit on the high side in terms of the population that we have in this country.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much. Let me start with the comments by Hon. Labode. I hear you when you say we should have separated the COVID budget from the rest of the Ministry of Health budget but we have not done that. Basically, the course for COVID response are spread around various ministries as I have explained earlier because we use them for the intervention for various aspects in terms of the work of the taskforce. So, it is spread around and that is what it is but we seem to believe that in terms of the Ministry of Health, what we have allocated is adequate. We have to live within the means and within the budget that we have. There is very little room to maneuver if we were to look elsewhere for resources, I am not so sure which Ministry I would cut back on and how because we are using project based budgeting. All these programmes have been discussed and negotiated with the line ministries, programme by programme. It will be very difficult to make adjustments upwards and I do not know where to cut.
Then Hon. Mushoriwa on vaccines, the US$100 million that we used to the first round when we bought vaccines bought us about 12 million vaccines. So to get to cover 10 million people which is our target, we needed eight million more vaccines and that is what we do down to the SDRS 4. This is in line with the IMF guidelines to make sure that we respond to the pandemic and we are comfortable with that because each time we make a draw -own, they ask us what we are going to use the money for and we explain. We explained and we are pleased that they concurred. We will now be able to procure the entire US$20 million that we need for these vaccines but remember we need also to buy syringes as well and other related equipment that we had also to purchase to make sure that the programme works well. So that is what we have done with those resources but Hon. Labode, about the size of the budget, I feel that the money is adequate. Thank you.
(V)HON. MARKHAM (Spkng): The Minister has not considered anything including why 146% in a pandemic has been distributed. I honestly see no point in proceeding further. I thank you.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: Madam Chair, I think what Hon. Markham said makes sense. If the Hon. Minister feels so strongly that he cannot add an additional funding to Health, it just confirms the fact that the Minister is not open to debate and the position is to simply push the proposal from the Ministry of Finance as it is. It actually becomes a mockery to Parliament as the one that passes the Budget.
The other clarification that I would want to seek from the Hon. Minister, we were told that the vaccines from China, were costing around $6 thereabout, but from the figures that you are putting to say that you got 12 million from $100, it now appears that the cost per vaccine was even higher than the amount that we were made to believe. I am just wondering whether there is a problem in terms of the pricing or the price has been increased over time.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much. The prices for vaccines have been coming down over time. In fact, the programmes worked very well. The suppliers have even donated some vaccines and will be receiving further donations going forward which will go a long way in giving us enough vaccines to support a booster programme as well. Thank you very much.
Vote 14, put and agreed to.
Vote 15 – Primary and Secondary Education - $124, 069,971,000 put and agreed to.
Vote 16 – Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development - $35,774,248,000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 17 – Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development - $4,734,493,000;
HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you Madam Chair. I also speak in the context that I am a member of that Portfolio Committee. I just want to highlight to the Minister that a lot of hope was raised to many women in Zimbabwe who historically are marginalised and remain marginalised in the mainstream economy. We know that the Women Empowerment Bank was considered as one of the possible hopes to take them out of poverty. The way the Women Empowerment Bank has been underfunded in the past year has left a lot of women across Zimbabwe disappointed.
If this country is going to respect the expectation of the Constitution of achieving 50% gender equality, one of the most important thing is that what the Government of the day must be seen to be doing is to come up with budgetary support for any initiative that seeks to empower women economically. The idea of the Women Empowerment Bank is one of the options that the Government of the day has got. There is clear indication that it is underfunded and it is failing to meet the expectation of a lot of women across the country who are willing to start their own small to medium enterprises or informal businesses to ensure that they stop being dependent; they start to be self-reliant and return their own dignity as citizens of this country.
In spite of all the appeals, there still seems to be a situation where all the appeals of increasing massively the budget for the Women Bank falling on deaf ears. I am challenging the Minister to meet the women of Zimbabwe half way. Women of Zimbabwe are prepared to work closely with the Women Empowerment Bank and make sure that it helps them to move out of poverty.
In line with the vision of the country to achieve upper-middle income status by 2030, let us put our big mouths where our money is. Let us put our money where our big mouth is. Let us invest in the Women Empowerment Bank. I challenge the Minister to increase the budget massively so that next year we do not see what we have seen this year where the majority of women who apply for loans never got any loans. As I speak tonight, the Women Empowerment Bank is seen as a mirage. It is a false hope and it is time for the Minister of Finance to seek to make it a reality for millions of women across the country who really had hope a few years ago that the Women Empowerment Bank was going to be a game changer. It was going to give them dignity, it was going to help them to get economically empowered.
I challenge the Hon. Minister of Finance to come up with ways to make sure that the Women Empowerment Bank does not become a white elephant. A few years ago, hopes were raised that this was going to help a lot of women in Zimbabwe, to boost the economy of Zimbabwe and to make sure that women are recognised as equal citizens of Zimbabwe because they are the ones who are historically and presently excluded from the economy. Thank you so much.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam Chair. We acknowledge that there is need to recapitalise the Women’s Bank and that is what is proposed in the Budget. I do not know if you can all remember. Maybe you missed the line in the Budget. We are going to recapitalise the bank. Secondly, we took on board a suggestion that came from the Committee and from our discussion in Victoria Falls, that we should set up a guarantee facility for a certain category of women entrepreneurs who may not have the adequate level of collateral that the bank would demand upon the procurement of loans. We took this on board as an innovation that will expand capacity of the bank.
In that intervention, I sense that the Hon. Member also wants coverage across the country in terms of access from this bank but then it is up to the bank to come to us with that strategy to say, how are they going to make this happen? Will they partner with other banks in doing so? That is more of an operational strategic issue which in a Vote, I am not able to capture but I will take the point about capacitating the bank and we are going to do so. Thank you.
Vote 17, put and agreed to.
Vote 18 – Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage - $49,417,575,000 put and agreed to.
Vote 19 – Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs - $22,705,137,000 put and agreed to.
On Vote 20, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services –ZWL2 652 674 000
(v)HON. MOKONE: I reject that figure. On a serious note, we are faced with a pandemic, Coronavirus and they are supposed to inform the nation on how they can protect themselves against this pandemic.
As a Ministry, we need to complete this digitalisation programme that was begun in 2015 and it was supposed to end in 2017. Now we are in 2021 and every year this Ministry is underfunded. Therefore, I object to this allocation. Information is a public good, it is key, especially these days. Without information we are not going to be able to fight this pandemic and other diseases globally.
(v)HON. MOLOKELE: Thank you Madam Chair. I speak on behalf of Matabeleland North Province where access to radio and television is very limited. I speak on behalf of my Constituency, Hwange Central, especially the rural wards in my constituency where we do not have access to ZBC, where we actually have access to the Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation. I speak on behalf of all the people in Zimbabwe, especially in rural areas who could benefit if our Government decides to take seriously the request from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation with regards to finally completing the migration towards the new system that they have been talking about since 2015. The digitalised system could help to improve access to radio and television which will also open up the airwaves for more people in this country.
Today, only people in urban areas are the ones who have access to the public media through ZBC. I am appealing to the Minister to say since the new dispensation claims that they are the ones who get things done, let us see that with ZBC, 6 years after this programme was launched with all funny fair, why not come up with a clear strategy to make sure that you fund and make sure that ZBC finally migrates as promised 6 years ago. When will this be finally put to finality?
Therefore, Hon. Minister, I am challenging you again, can you include more Zimbabweans into the broadcasting services by responding to the request from ZBC that has fallen on your deaf ears since you were appointed Minister. ZBC has been crying every year for your attention. We need a master plan to make sure that the migration happens once and for all, we want to increase access to people especially those who are being excluded like those in Matabeleland North who are being forced to listen to Zambia National Broadcasting, Botswana Broadcasting when they can listen to ZBC which is their national broadcaster. Hon. Minister, come up with a plan and respond to the budgetary request and make sure that this thing is done with once and for all. We cannot continue every year repeating the same request.
(v)HON. R.R NYATHI: I just want to make a small comment on the issue of financing for this particular Ministry. It is very true that the staff responsible for news broadcasting do not even have the requisite tools like cameras and even vehicles for them to move around. However, in the next year that we getting into, they would need adequate equipment because there are a lot of national activities such as general elections, census, delimitation and they will be needed all over. When they are talking of cameras, they usually hire from somewhere. In terms of vehicles, if you want them to go and do coverage somewhere, you have to send them a car. Therefore, Hon. Minister of Finance, may you increase the Vote of that particular Ministry.
HON. J. SITHOLE: I want to say this area of information and communication is very crucial. Right now we are busy communicating yet there is no consideration over the importance of the particular Ministry.
If you look at what we have observed when we visited some transmission sites, some of them were using generators which consume 15 litres per hour because they do not even have electricity, hence a lot is needed there through energy.
Today we are talking of community radios but there is no funding that can be provided through Government. I thank you.
HON. KASHIRI: I just want to concur with the two last contributions from Hon. Molokela and Hon. Nyathi. The Vote for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services should be increased.
HON. NYABANI: Hon. Minister, may you put funding on the community radio stations so that communities in the border areas may also benefit. I thank you.
(v) HON. MUCHIMWE: Thank you Hon. Chair. Inasmuch as I have heard the debate from Members, most if not all are against this well presented budget. A budget is a framework of what is expected, what is expected to be put in place. The same figures, if you put them into the final analysis, are high but there is room to increase if funds are available. There is no way the Minister can hold funds if they are available. Otherwise if he gives too much – [HON. PETER MOYO: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. M. KHUMALO): Hon. Moyo, order please.
HON. MUCHIMWE: My conclusion is, let us work with what is there. Thank you.
+HON. PETER MOYO: Thank you Hon. Speaker for the opportunity given. I would like to support the Chairperson of the Media Committee who is rejecting the funds allocated towards Media because radio and televisions in this country are taken as luxury, not knowing that it is people’s rights to be informed about what is happening in our country. If we are travelling in this country from Harare to Kadoma, radio and television network is no longer accessible. In fact we access South African stations, Zambian stations and Mozambican stations. What is really troubling us, we realise that other ministries are given enough monies, yet we do not even realise who is empowering these. It is people’s rights….
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Moyo, proffer solutions, you are now debating.
(v) HON. PETER MOYO: You have to fund ZBC, put money in ZBC. What was requested by the Minister; what was requested by the Committee, that should be fulfilled. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I ask that the Hon. Minister, he can get money in retrospect from the International Gateway Solution investment through the content that is being created by ZBC over the past 15 years. He can get that money in retrospect because every evening at 2000 hours, there is about 15 000 diasporans that watch ZBC news. If this has been going on for the past 15 years online, on Facebook, that is content created by ZBC, that needs to be renumerated and that needs to be paid. This is a practical solution and I also urge Hon. Members to vociferously, effectively and efficiently debate on this point so that ZBC can get money. ICT is a game changer, it is a multi-trillion dollar industry and we can start by 2022 Budget on information, using what is already gone before it. It is concept related through Gateway Solution establishment. I am sure the Minister of Finance can remove all the headache in terms of financing the new commission industry.
(v) HON. RAIDZA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I just want to add my voice to this Vote. My proposal is that it is ideal if the Minister can properly fund Transmedia where we will end up having digitalisation in this country. After we have digitalised our broadcasting services, then people will be in a position to pay. We have a lot of good programmes that the Government is doing that are not even known by the people on the ground. So I think it is very critical that some of the parastatals that are under the Ministry, if they are well funded they can generate income for the benefit of the fiscus and for the benefit of the nation.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. Chair. This budget pertains to supporting the Ministry of Information, including the parastatal, ZBC. In the last three years we have done a lot to support ZBC. In 2019, we used to pay salaries to ZBC staff. In 2020, we continued doing that, we bought them some cameras. We supported the refurbishment of some studios by year end of 2020. So we have been supporting this parastatal.
In the 2022 budget, we have set aside the forces to support this institution. So we are very supportive, we have never neglected them. On the issue of digitalisation, this cannot be a one off project. It is a multi-year project. It is quite heavy, we worked out and it needs about US$75 million to execute. It would not be done in one year. I have actually approached a lender from abroad who then said, this does not look like you could get a loan on the market, so we cannot lend you money as a country. So we have to support it via State coffers, through Treasury. We have allocated some resources this year. We will allocate some more next year. Within the next three years, we will be able to complete the digital process. We are quite aware that our citizens get radio from other countries and we are determined to really curtail that and stop that eventually. So we are committed to supporting the Ministry but it is on a monthly analysis and it shows what we have done to support ZBC.
(v)HON. MOKONE: Yes, I still stand on what I said earlier on that I reject this allocation. I was hoping the Minister would actually increase our allocation because the Minister, as he was responding, kept on referring to ZBC. May I actually point out to the Minister that ZBC is not the only company or parastatal under the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. We have other parastatals that are under the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and they have to fulfill their mandates. So I still stand on what I said that I object to this allocation and I am not going to actually say that this budget be approved because my Ministry was given a paltry amount. So I believe I have made my point.
(v)*HON. TEKESHE: Hon. Chair, I think the money that is being channeled to ZBC is way too much. They are actually covering only party activities. There is too much money going into the institution. It is better we channel that money to other sectors such as education. Thank you.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Thank you Hon. Chair, I wanted the Minister to take note that Zimbabwe is one of the countries that has got the highest numbers of decoders in households in Africa. I do not know whether he has managed to notice that a lot of Zimbabweans actually use satellite television which they obviously cannot afford. Zimbabwe is losing a lot of foreign currency because of payments to MutliChoice DSTV when we can avoid that kind of expense in Zimbabwe where we are forced to subscribe to MultiChoice DSTV.
Why can we not as Zimbabwe invest in our own broadcasting infrastructure, have our own television access improved and make sure there are community radio stations so that Zimbabweans stop wasting a lot of money each month, a lot of foreign currency that we desperately need to pay for subscriptions to DSTV and others? So we need to understand that the same $5 million that the Minister is talking about is nothing compared to the amount of money that Zimbabweans pay every month to access DSTV. This is simple mathematics. This is simple financial logic. The longer we take the more unnecessary waste of foreign currency will continue.
I am appealing to the Minister to take reason of that, that we are wasting a lot of money as Zimbabwe. Even the most basic family in the country has got DSTV. Why are we having DSTV, mostly because we do not have choice in terms of what to listen to and watch, mostly because there is no competition for ZBC, mostly because there is not enough coverage, especially in rural parts of Zimbabwe in remote parts of the country. All border towns in Zimbabwe do not listen or watch local television or radio. They are all listening to South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. This must come to an end. Forty one years after independence, this must come to an end where you deliberately exclude people in Beitbridge and everywhere from listening to their own national broadcasting. This is an urgent matter; $75 000 000 is not enough. We want to include everyone in the development of this country and State media is very important.
The issue of whether ZBC is biased towards other political parties has got nothing to do with the fact that people cannot even access ZBC in Hwange Central Constituency where I come from. So let us not confuse those two issues. We will fight about whether the ZBC is truly a public broadcaster but we cannot even go there when we cannot even access ZBC in the first place, when we do not have community television in this country, when we do not have community radio stations in rural parts of Zimbabwe. This needs to be addressed urgently. So let us increase money, let us increase funding for ZBC and let us make sure people stop subscribing to DSTV wasting a lot of foreign currency. Thank you Hon. Chair.
(v)HON. PETER MOYO: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. Mr. Speaker Sir, why are we still having one national television in this country? It shows we are not even serious about information dissemination.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Peter Moyo, you are out of order. That does not arise now.
(v)HON. PETER MOYO: I am not out of order; I am saying it. You have to give other players so that you get money. That is my solution. I am not out of order.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: But we are dealing with the Ministry’s budget.
(v)HON. PETER MOYO: Yes, the budget that was allocated is too little. The request by the Committee, the request from the Minister must be funded. It is a must; we are not even shy about it. We want this Ministry to be funded fully because we are talking about information to our citizenry in this country.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: But Hon. Moyo, we hear you. You are repeating the same thing.
(v)HON. PETER MOYO: Yes, so we need to have many stations in this country like what Hon. Molokela has said. We are subscribing to DSTV. Why can we not subscribe to ZBC if things are okay?
(v)HON. NDUNA: I ask that Hon. Members propose how to increase the revenue generation measures.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Nduna, thank you they heard. Hon. Minister, any response?
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Hon. Speaker, to be honest, I think I am getting lost. I do not know if we are debating on the Vote or anything else. We are very committed to supporting this Ministry. We have walked the talk for the last three years supporting the ZBC in the way we have done and we are committed to doing more and that is what we have put in the budget allocation. I am hearing about additional stations and so forth. That is not what this budget is meant for but also there are other media platforms that are under the Government such as Zimpapers for example. What are we suggesting about those? So you have ZTN, you have got the whole stable under Zimpapers. So ZTV is not the only Government owned channel for communication and disseminating communication.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Let us be very clear. There is no access to ZBC in Hwange.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Molokela!
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: If I can proceed Chairman. ZTN is available on electronic media. I have been able to access it from any part of the country and also globally, I have been able to do that through the normal media channels. I am just saying that there are other platforms that are under the purview of Government and not just ZBC, but we are still showing a lot of commitment towards supporting ZBC. I thank you.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: I want to respond to the Minister.
(v)HON. MOKONE: Yes, my hand is up.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: We want to respond to the Hon. Minister Chair – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Why is the Minister being allowed not to answer our questions? It is really unfair Hon. Chair. The Minister is not answering questions; he is avoiding answering questions.
(v)HON. MOKONE: Hon. Chair, you are skipping debate.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: You are no longer debating. There is a stand-off here, you are no longer debating but repeating the same things. I want to put it to vote.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: Hon. Chair, the Minister is not responding directly to the issues. He is avoiding them.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: That is how he is responding.
Voter 20, put and agreed to.
On Vote 21 – Youth, Sport Arts and Recreation - $7 844 058 000;
HON. MAVETERA: Thank you very much Hon. Chair for this opportunity. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for the $100 000 000 that he managed to give to the people in arts, which is in arts fund. Following up on the conversation that we had in Victoria Falls, I remember very well the Hon. Minister in his budget statement mentioned that there was an emphasis that they will also put in terms of rehabilitation and in terms of drugs which a lot of young people are getting involved in now. On that one ,when I also look at the programmes that the Ministry had in the Appropriation Bill, I realise that there is a decrease even when it comes to some of the programmes that they have. Last year, they managed to capacitate in terms of youth development 25 000, because of the limited budget now, they will only be able to capacitate 15 000. Again, if you look at the ones that are supposed to be trained at national orientation, they are also decreasing from 1500 to 1000.
So on that, when I look at all these performance indicators, there is quite a limitation in terms of the amount. I understand the Hon. Minister was clear that it is a fiscal space which if quite limited. My call was especially on that $100 million, that $100 million is specific to arts which we appreciate and we want to thank him for introducing that. Now when it comes to sports, I had seen the amount that is supposed to go to SRC, it is quite good but when I look at how it is broken down, it is specific to compensation of employees and use of goods and service and do not go down to the young person. So now my interest is I understand that right now for us to be able to rehabilitate these young people, these are two programmes that I thought you are also supposed to be quite clear so that we can rehabilitate young people. We have the issue of arts and we have the issue of sports.
On the sports, I feel it is very much limited and if there is anything that the Minister can do, he will be able to come up with a sports fund as well ,the same way that we came up with an arts, this will actually be able to help young people. My call really is on the sports fund considering that the money which is going to SRC is going to the National Sports Stadium but not direct to the young person. So this was just my call to the Hon. Minister, if there is anything that he can do. Let us also applaud him for giving up a fund to Pan-African Youth Council. I thank you very much. In terms of VTCs (Vocational Training Centres), I realise that you have given a lot of VTCs money which is good for us but I remember very well that you also mentioned the issue of flagship VTCs. On that one now, I really wanted to ask the Hon. Minister to say of all these ones that you have managed to give which I appreciate and thank you, which one then becomes our flagship which will be more ICT based which we believe can be something that you can say this is an ideal centre for a VTC which you also promised us when you went to the budget conference? These are my submissions Hon. Chair.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you very much and I thank Hon. Mavetera for those interventions. Starting with the later in terms of which of these will be the flagship for national training centres, we will be guided by the Minister. As Finance we cannot choose for them, they will guide us accordingly and then ask us to direct resources accordingly. On the issue of the youth fund, yes thank you, we focused on the arts fund that was more an urgent issue in terms of creating jobs right there. On the youth fund, it looks like in our allocation, we do not specifically target the beneficiaries but rather the infrastructure if there is a training to be done for example including this idea that the Ministry could partner with higher education and access sports facilities from higher education institutions because each of these universities in the ten provinces will be their training facilities which the youth can access. There is need sometimes to reflect may be it could be that as we think through the back pocket, this is something that we could work together though the Ministry of Youth to sort out, right now I am not clear as to how we could intervene here but we can have a conversation and see how we can use the back pocket to intervene in this area. We are much clearer on the arts fund I tell you. I thank you.
Vote 21, put and agreed to.
Vote 22, Energy and Power Development; ZWL3 553 865 000.00. put and agreed to.
On Vote 23, Information Communication and Technology and Courier Services, ZWL3 294 554 000.00.
*(V)HON. NYABANI: Thank you Mr. Chairman. We do not have network in Rushing it is difficult for the children to access e-learning. We are appealing to Government that they put base stations. We are behind as rural communities and it is only those in urban areas that enjoy the added advantage. In rural areas and in border areas, there is no network. I thank you.
*(V)HON. GANDAWA: Thank you Madam Chair, we start a programme called Universal Services Fund this fund is helping us but because of COVID-19, remote areas that are marginalised do not have connectivity. There is a place called Dete, Kazangarare, they get Zambian airwaves not Zimbabwean. I wanted the Minister to look at that. Universal Services Fund must be funded and given enough allocation so that base stations are put in areas that are marginalised. Rural school children cannot access e-learning or any form of electoral media. People in rural areas are suffering. We want to move forward with technology. I remember you saying your pocket is rich and deep and everything is in place. You must consider ICT. I thank you.
HON. BRIG. GEN. (RTD) MAYIHLOME: Thank you very much. I just want to add my voice to the issue of ICT and USF funds that we have been talking about for the past 3 years. I come from a constituency which is barely 40 kms from Bulawayo, 50% of people in that constituency do not have any access to any connectivity of whatever kind. We are talking of people climbing mountains to access social media. We are talking of people climbing trees to report about ill patients. You are talking of people who have to compete with those based in cities to apply for vacancies in nursing, teaching and all those organizations now advertise on the internet or Whatsapp. How do we compete with those that come from Harare? They come 40 km away but they do not have any network and we have been talking about this every year and the Minister has been promising to fund this but nothing has happened.
Honestly, if the President is saying no region or no place and no one should be left behind, why is the Ministry not practicing that? Why should we be left behind and watch other parts of the country talk about smart agriculture, e-learning and all these other developments and yet we are just watching it all, nothing? Every year we get promised. This year we were told that the money was there and it was in foreign currency but the foreign currency is controlled by the same Minister. Honestly, I think this one needs more resources Hon. Minister. The issue of network cannot be delayed any further. We need it now so that our children, parents and those who want to transact, everybody is transacting through Ecocash, how do you transact when there is no network?
*(v) HON. P. MOYO: Hon. Chair, we want the Minister to have a relook at the budget and increase the budget. He should try and put more funds because we are now operating in an e-Governance system.
*THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Where do you want him to adjust the funds?
*(v) HON. P. MOYO: If a Ministry is $3 billion out of $12 billion which they had requested for, I believe it is way too low. May the Minister please increase this money so that it is in line with the prevailing circumstances? We are now in wave four of COVID-19 and those that are not vaccinated may fall foul. It appears that we are going to even close the schools. If we close all schools and there is no network, the majority of us Members are actually failing to connect showing that our connectivity and network is not good. Our network should be improved so that we move with the times. When we go to other countries on benchmarking visits, we see that they learn very well using virtual platforms than in the physical institution. If we are going to be operating from home, how we are going to be able to do that, whether it is going to be through government. School children should be given sufficient amounts to be able to function properly.
This has been mentioned by Hon Brig (Rtd) Mayihlome. People are now climbing trees to be able to access network. We are in an independent country and should be seen to be ensuring that the local resources that we have are benefitting this particular meeting so that everyone has bandwidth and connectivity. No one should be left behind, be they in the communal lands or farms. It is my plea that the Minister should understand and increase the budget of this particular Ministry. If he is caught between a rock and a hard place, he must allocate at least some of what the Ministry had requested so that he disburses that amount for them to be able to function properly so that our country will not lag behind. It is my considered view that they be allocated half of their requirement, which is $6 billion so they will be able to discharge their mandate well.
*(v) HON. CHIKWAMA: The Minister should hear our plea and increase the allocation to the Ministry. The way that we are living, we are using internet and cannot use such gadgets in our constituencies. People are going up the trees as already mentioned and that is quite difficult for us. In fact, we are much better because at times we can access internet. Even if they have not been given half of the budget allocation, the Minister should have allocated more money. Everything that we require has to be done online, so if he is not going to increase the money and there is not even a single booster in my constituency, they go on to higher ground or mountains so as to access network. There is no network to talk about. It is our plea that other areas that do not have network get connected and be actually taken into consideration so that Zimbabwe can be seen to be moving into a modern State. It is not possible without connectivity. Please hear our plea Hon. Minister.
(v) HON. MOKONE: The NDS1 speaks about achieving a digital economy. How do we achieve a digital economy with such a paltry figure of $3.3 billion? These days there is so much talk about e-learning, children are not going to school physically because they are doing e-learning but there is no network. ICT is incapacitated to actually make sure that there is connectivity across the country. This Ministry should be given more money so that they can carry out that mandate in a professional manner and carry it out effectively.
(v)HON. NDIWENI: My own contribution on the ICT now that we are talking of a digital economy and the pandemic, I would like to inform the Minister that when we consulted the stakeholders, they suggested that the most feasible amount to be given to this Ministry will be 5% of the budget. I thank you.
(v)HON. MOLOKELA-TSIYE: This is one example where as Zimbabwe we are failing to do a proper cost-benefit analysis. When we exclude millions of Zimbabwe from accessing the internet like we are doing, from accessing Wi-Fi and mobile data, we are forcing those Zimbabweans to travel from their homes into town which is a much more expensive task because it includes transport, food and accommodation expenses when they can easily access mobile, internet banking and e-learning while they are at home in rural Zimbabwe.
In all the rural parts of my constituency, there is no access to internet. When we get out of town, we automatically go offline. I had the privilege of going to Lupane East Constituency where the Minister of Finance hails from. There is no network coverage, not just for internet but for mobile coverage. Most parts of that constituency have no mobile coverage at all for Econet and Netone. We need to understand as Zimbabwe that we are losing a lot of money by forcing our rural folk who are already poor and struggling in this economy. When they want to do a simple transaction, they go to Lupane Centre to do that. Hon. Minister, can you save a lot of money for Zimbabwe and for our budget by making sure that you increase network coverage especially for millions of Zimbabweans who are clearly being left behind in this digitalisation era. Let us build more boosters and increase the budget.
*(v)HON. NYAMUDEZA: I would like to request the Minister to allocate more resources towards the construction of boosters so that we will be able to look at maintenance in the next year. It is not only the installation of these boosters that we have to look at, we also need to look at maintenance. There is no installation that will not require maintenance. I implore you because you were born in a rural area which does not have internet connectivity and you are aware of that.
(v)HON. GABBUZA: Generally, internet services are provided for by private players, why then do we want to insist on getting money for boosters when there is Econet and Netone? We have a lot of duplication because where there are boosters, there is Econet, Telecel and Netone. Why do we not enforce these infrastructure sharing so that we are able to save resources and spread our coverage? There is the Universal Services Fund, I am not aware on which project that fund was released. Why do we not use that so that it is reflected in the budget and we are aware of how many projects have been funded by this fund?
*(v)HON. KARUMAZONDO: We request that we have sufficient boosters in Maramba-Pfungwe. The teachers and nurses are transferring from ward one because of poor network coverage. Teachers do not want to live in areas where there is poor network coverage because they are unable to communicate with their relatives. We ask that the Minister reconsiders and increase our budget so that civil servants will not run away from their stations. I thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I thank the Hon. Members for their comments. They basically said one thing, all of them, which is increasing the size of this budget. The issue of the digital economy is that of a shared economy. The private sector is very active in this regard because it is profitable but also so is Government. It is not the sole role of Government to provide the entire infrastructure to digital economy. We believe that what we have allocated is Government’s own contribution to this sector and we believe that it will go a long way in improving services in the sector.
There is an issue of shared infrastructure. One Hon Member mentioned this very important point that there is infrastructure that ought to be shared and why is it not being shared. It is not the responsibility of Government to provide all the infrastructure. When it comes to base stations which you mentioned, we are, as Government, already supporting Netone and Telone through loans from abroad where they are rolling out base stations. This is an ongoing programme. The fact of the matter is that the digital economy agenda is a shared agenda between Government and the private sector because it is a profitable area.
We believe what we have allocated is adequate but when you look at the digital services within Government, there is high performance computer that sits under the Ministry of Higher Education. There is also a data centre which sits under the Office of the President and Cabinet and then you have got other programmes sitting directly within the Ministry of ICT. Within Government, it is spread out as a sector in terms of activities but then the budget also follows the same ministries impacting programmes across the three areas and not just ICT Ministry. I thank you.
Vote 23, put and agreed to.
HON. MUSHORIWA: On a point of order. My point of order is that we consider adjourning the House primarily because of the nature of where we are, given the COVID crisis that we are having. Secondly and most importantly, you are aware that since we started debating, there has not been a movement by the Minister on each and every Vote. Maybe the best is to put all the Votes that remain because the answers are simply the same. The Minister has just come unprepared to debate. The best thing is to combine everything and allow staff members to have sufficient time to go and rest in order to see their families given the COVID situation that we are finding ourselves in. We cannot continue doing an exercise in futility. That is my suggestion Madam Chair.
*THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I have heard what you said, it is a suggestion, but we are going to proceed so that at least we can conclude. Thank you very much.
(V)HON. P. MOYO: Point of order Madam Chair. Thank you very much Madam Chair. I see as if what we are doing is not helpful. So I think we should go and rest, people should go and sleep and the Minister should also go and sleep and come back tomorrow when he is doing well. It is showing that he is not thinking well…
*THE CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Moyo. What you are supposed to do is if you want to sleep, just exit and go to sleep. Thank you.
Vote 23, put and agreed to.
Vote 24 – National Housing and Social Amenities – ZW$10 061 472 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 25 – Judicial Services Commission – ZW$5 445 814 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 26 – Public Service Commission - ZW$22 752 070 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 27 – National Council of Chiefs – ZW$671 030 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 28 – Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission - ZW$403 898 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 29 – National Peace and Reconciliation Commission - ZW$441 333 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 30 – National Prosecuting Authority - ZW$1 629 265 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 31 – Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission - ZW$913 713 000 put and agreed to.
HON. NDEBELE: Madam Speaker, just allow me to observe that this is my second term in Parliament and I have never seen us conduct a Budget in this manner. I am just disappointed, I thought I would state that for the record.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Noted.
Vote 32 – Zimbabwe Electoral Commission - ZW$11 632 813 000 put and agreed to.
HON. NDEBELE: This is a process that is supposed to define lives of our people for the next 12 months and we treat it in a kindergarten manner like this. This is absolute child’s play and it is an embarrassment. I think the Second Republic can do way better than this. We are regressing in terms of our standards. I did not expect us to sink so low.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, noted.
Vote 33 – Zimbabwe Gender Commission - ZW$497 590 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 34 – Zimbabwe Land Commission - ZW$1 759 307 000 put and agreed to.
Vote 35 – Zimbabwe Media Commission - ZW$510 990 000 put and agreed to.
Main Estimates of Expenditure reported without amendments.
Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in accordance with the Main Estimates of Expenditure adopted by the House.
APPROPRIATION BILL (2022) [H. B. 15, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE) presented the Appropriation Bill (2022) Bill.
Bill read the first time.
Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Finance (2022) Bill [H.B. 16, 2021].
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker. I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
FINANCE (2022) BILL [H.B. 16, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. NCUBE): This Bill seeks to support the statement that I have read before this House and makes several proposals. The Bill seeks to give effect to some of the proposals that were outlined in the statement that I gave before this august House, proposals which pertain to incentives or disincentives or revenue raising measures. I must say that within that, I wish to highlight that Clause 3 of the Bill...
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I think with all due respect, we received the Finance Bill at close to 6 p.m. this evening, a 100 page document and for the Hon. Minister to say that he can read the Finance Bill now, I think that will be stretching Parliament to the limit. There is sufficient time next week. Let the Finance Bill be stood over and allow Hon. Members to go through the 100 page document that has been sent at 6.00 p.m. It will be very unfair and wrong for this to happen and I think the Hon. Minister should take cognisance of the Hon. Members. We have been patient enough –[AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection]-
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, order please. Can I rule on Hon. Mushoriwa’s concern? The Departmental Draft was distributed two days ago and this one is basically the same as the Departmental Draft. So the Minister can proceed. I think Hon. Mushoriwa, you are the one who asked for the Departmental Draft yesterday.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: No, there is a difference between the Departmental Draft and the Finance Bill. I have got the Departmental Draft and it is different from the Finance Bill.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I have ruled, may the Minister proceed reading the Bill.
HON. PROF. NCUBE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir, if I could proceed. This Bill seeks to support the proposals that were outlined in my Budget Statement in various ways. First of all, in Clause 3, Part II of the Finance Act, Chapter 23:04 provides for specific deductions (called “credits”) of an actual amount of tax from the actual tax payable. This clause introduces a tax credit of US$50 or local currency equivalent per additional employee recruited per month for corporates that employ physically challenged persons. The credit will however, be limited to a maximum of US$ 2 250 per year of assessment.
This will go a long way in support of the mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’ in terms of the job market. On tax free threshold on tax bands, the Bill seeks to adjust with effect from January 1, 2022, the tax free thresholds from the current Z$10 000 to Z$25 000 and the tax bands to end at Z$500 000 above which a marginal tax rate of 40 percent will then apply. For example, Clause 8 pertains to the maximum debt redemption on strategic reserve levies. We need to build reserves of the country to make sure that we can support ourselves and we have enough fuel available should there be an energy shock.
Clause 11, this clause seeks to amend section 77 of the Income Tax Act in order to compel taxpayers filing returns of income for legal entities to disclose particulars of beneficial owners.
Clause 13, the most salient feature of this clause is the adjustment of the local currency tax-free bonus threshold from ZWL25 000 to ZWL100 000 and the foreign currency tax-free bonus threshold from US$320 to US$700, with effect from 1 November 2021. Additionally, to preserve value of retrenchment packages, this clause will adjust the non-taxable portion of the local currency tax-free threshold from the greater of ZWL 50 000 or 1/3 of the retrenchment package, whichever is higher, up to a maximum of ZWL240 000, to the greater of ZWL400 000 or 1/3 of the retrenchment package, whichever is greater, up to a maximum
of ZWL2 million, for income earned in local currency.
Clause 16 deals with the signing of returns by tobacco merchants. This clause provides for the submission of a single tax return by tobacco merchants and auctioneers on the prescribed date. Clause 17 seeks to exempt from the intermitted money transfer tax transfer sales from the carbon tax sinking fund and the Agriculture Development Fund.
Clause 19, this clause restores the exemption of marketable securities from capital gains tax. In order to curtail speculative tendencies, this clause increases the capital gains tax withholding tax to 1.5% on the transfer of shares that are held for a minimum period of six months. Shares held for a period of less than six months will be subject to a withholding tax of 2%.
The next one is on Dairy Revitalisation Fund where, in line with the interventions proposing the NDS1 to improve performance in the dairy value chain, this clause seeks to introduce a levy of 5% on the value imported dairy products. This will be closed in a fund, the Dairy Revitalisation Fund which we will then use to develop our daily herd.
The other clause I want to highlight pertains to Clause 35. This clause seeks to implement a standard methodology for calculation of mineral royalties. There has been a lot of difficulty as we work with platinum producers, especially in terms of coming up with the right levels of royalties. We have tried to simplify this using some formula which is laid to the global price in the London Metals Exchange and this is well articulated in Clause 35. Clause 34 pertains to the tax free threshold for a deceased estate. We received submissions, especially from the widows who really feel that they needed some relief here, so we listened carefully. This Clause 34 seeks to adjust the tax exempt portion of a deceased estate from ZWL 50,000 to US$100,000 or local currency equivalent.
On Clause 45, I can highlight that this clause prescribes the rates of fuel levy in respect of blend and specify the Section 7 (3) of the Roads Fuel Levy, Notice 208 published Statutory Instrument 168 of 2008 at $US0,02 per litre. Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move that the Bill be read a second time. I thank you.
(v) HON. GABBUZA: Mr. Speaker Sir, just one small point which the Minister should attend to. I do not see any duty rebates on renewable energy projects. The current law is that only solar panels are exempt from duty but the current technology is that the solar panels come in packages. So, if you exempt the solar panel, what happens to the batteries and other gadgets that go with the solar? That is not promoting renewable energy as a Government policy. Where does that leave the renewable energy thrust that the Government has put? May the Minister consider including all other accessories and the solar energy gadgets. Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me start by expressing my reservations pertaining to the Finance Bill with such a short notice. I have noted that if you go through the Finance Bill, the Hon. Minister has tried to bring in the Reserve Bank Assumption Debt into this Bill. Mr. Speaker Sir, there is need for us as Parliamentarians to go through this list of companies whose funds were eaten by the Reserve Bank. We did not even have the chance of the Auditor-General to provide a report to this august House to confirm the authenticity of the amount or the quantum of the debt that the RBZ incurred.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of the proposals by the Hon. Minister, there are several things that are not in sync with the current economic set up we have in this country. The first and foremost is to start with the question of the Poverty Datum Line and you compare this with the Pay As You Earn. Anyone who is earning a salary that is less than ZWL50,000 should not pay tax because that person is living below the Poverty Datum Line. The tax bracket in my view, needs to be adjusted. I have just emailed my amendments to the Minister. If you compare the tax bracket for those who are earning foreign currency and those who are earning local currency and try to see what is the exchange rate which the Hon. Minister is using, you will get a feeling Hon. Speaker that you have got a Minister who, during the course of the day, speaks about the auction rate. In reality, the Government does not believe it. There should be a system that solves even the question of tax brackets for those earning in local currency and those earning in forex.
The third issue Mr. Speaker Sir, where the Hon. Minister is failing to appreciate is, Zimbabwe has actually re-dollarised. The only people that are ensuring that the RTGs are mostly civil servants and those that are on the quasi-government institutions like local authorities and State enterprises. What it means Mr. Speaker Sir, is that we have a situation where in terms of the 2%, the people that are paying the 2% tax are basically the civil servants and those who are in the quasi-government institutions. If you go to any shop or any small operator, all the charges that they charge, even rentals in the various high density suburbs are now being charged in US dollars. When civil servants get their money, they have to change part of their money into forex for them to pay rentals.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it is unfair to have a Finance Bill that does not speak to the reality of the day. As far as they are concerned, the proposals by the Minister do not result in increased revenue. In fact, the Hon. Minister should actually come up with a proper and an innovative way of simply saying how do you charge the intermediate tax of those people that are not employed and those that are getting their salaries in forex but in an informal manner where people are getting their money in fuel coupons, groceries and other stuff. The RTGs is no longer a currency of choice. We may keep it because we want to make sure that our civil servants remain poor but it is ironic that a Government that talks of pro-poor would want its workers to remain poor. No wonder why Mr. Speaker Sir, you would find that corruption will continue. If you pretend to be taking care of your own workers, they will also pretend to be working. Right now as we are speaking Mr. Speaker, you have got Parliament staff who at the end of the day are going to be paid in RTGs but they are today at this hour working for this nation.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the Minister talks about the tax credits for employing those who are physically disabled, the youths and so forth. Remember, the question for employment of the youths came in the last Budget. The report that the Minister gave when he presented the Budget Statement was not sound enough to see the benefits that have been accrued in terms of those credits.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. KHUMALO): Hon. Mushoriwa, I suggest that you reserve those comments until the stage when the House is in Committee so that you do it one by one. Otherwise, you will still have to debate them when you are in Committee.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: When we do Second Reading of the Bill, we comment on the Bill in its totality.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: But you are now repeating when we are going to be in Committee again.
(v)HON. MUSHORIWA: We never thought this Bill would be debated today…
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Mushoriwa, you are also hijacking Parliament by repeating many times.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: I have not repeated anything, I have actually been stating my points…
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: May you proceed and conclude.
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: A Finance Bill should be in a position to reflect and show us how the revenue of the budget is going to be financed. What we are finding in this Finance Bill is a situation where certain things which have nothing to do with this budget are now in. We are being allowed to quickly pass this Finance Bill without due consideration and that is a traversty, unfair, unjust…
(V)HON. MUDARIKWA: On a point of order! I think Hon. Mushoriwa is trying to mislead the House. At one time he was saying he was tired, he just received this and that, he has not read about this and that but now he is debating – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order, order!
(V)HON. MUSHORIWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for ruling Hon. Mudarikwa out of order who is sitting in the bar. I was submitting that there are issues that have been smuggled into this Finance Bill which have no relation to the budget as presented by the Hon. Minster. This is the reason I was appealing to you to say we needed time to submit the amendments to this Bill.
Sothis is my contribution Hon. Speaker, we are doing Zimbabwe a disservice if we are to push this Finance Bill in its current format.
(v)HON. R.R. NYATHI: I think we should pass this Bill today due to the current prevailing situation of COVID-19 4th wave which has also made us to receive messages that we should make contributions or debates whilst in our constituencies for the safety of our people. This means in one way or the other, we should be thanking the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development for pushing that the Finance Bill passes tonight because we might not be able to come back next week, due to the prevailing situation of COVID 19 4th wave.
So if we proceed to the next financial year without passing the Budget, the Finance Bill, it would not be reasonable. This then calls us as Hon. Members to put our heads together and work overnight in order to pass the Finance Bill. The Bill might have gaps here and there but we must consider that the nation’s health is at stake and that as a nation, we cannot function without a budget.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development is also allowed to come back to Parliament for the purposes of correcting those gaps that might be found in the budget. So let us not waste much time and put our heads together to finish this work. This is for our own good and for the good of the nation. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank the Hon. Members for their contributions. Hon. Mushoriwa referred to the portion of the Bill that pertains to the assumption of the RBZ debt. This is very relevant to the Finance Bill. It is a finance issue which speaks to the indebtedness of our country, so it should be part of this Bill.
In case that section is not very clear, what it seeks from Parliament is permission in principle to assume these debts subject to verification and an audit process. On the tax bands, we believe that the increase from 10 000 to 25 000 ZWL has done taxable income is a step in the right direction. It is quite a big jump we believe this also is adequate.
On the issue of tax credits, I did not realise that the Member of Parliament was anti-disabled citizens. We are trying everything we can to make sure that we do not leave anyone behind. So the tax credit to us is justified in that companies that employ differently enabled or disabled citizens ought to be rewarded for this. We want to make sure that they do not discriminate against the disabled, instead, they are incentivised to take them on. I do not understand why the Hon. Member is objecting to this noble proposal.
Coming to the issue that some issues were smuggled in which are not financial, that is not true. Everything in the Finance Bill should be in there. Certainly, I agree with Hon. Nyathi that we really need to make progress on this Budget Finance Bill so that we are ready to start the New Year on the right footing.
On the issue of renewable energy, yes, we have covered solar panels, lithium batteries. There has always been an issue with the jelly batteries because they can cross over in terms of their technology to car batteries. So we are not so sure that we should exempt those because we see an opportunity for those who are not so straightforward taking advantage and start bringing in jelly car batteries through this provision. So we thought that we should keep that still closed but we stand ready to evaluate as we go forward; maybe we might be in a different position next year. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (2022) BILL [H. B 16, 2021]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 53 and Schedule put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading; With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (2022) BILL [H. B. 16, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
ANNUONCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER
NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Appropriation (2022) Bill [H. B. 15, 2021].
APPROPRIATION (2022) BILL [H. B. 15, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, the Appropriation Bill so proposed before this House will go a long way in financing the Government’s National Development Strategy objectives, making sure that we can maintain macro-economic stability, we can finance infrastructure, and we can ensure food security, we can promote value chains right across our economy. We can support our youths to promote gender equity and make sure that we keep going on our re-engagement and engagement process. This Bill covers all those areas which are critical pillars of the NDS strategy. After all, this 2022 Budget is the instrument for enactment of our NDS1 strategy. I do believe if we approve it, it will go a long way for us reaching that goal of being an upper middle income economy by 2030; at least contributing to that road map. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Third Reading; With leave, forthwith.
APPROPRIATION (2022) BILL [H. B. 15, 2021]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the House adjourned at a Quarter to Ten o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 15th February, 2021.