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SENATE HANSARD 20 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 32 NO 8
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday 20th December, 2022
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE
BILLS RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the Senate that I have received the following Bills from the National Assembly: Finance (No. 2) Bill, [H. B. 13, 2022], Appropriation (2023) Bill [H. B. 14, 2022] and Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill [H. B. 10A, 2021].
FINANCE (NO. 2) Bill [H. B. 13, 2022]
Second Order read: Second Reading: Finance (No. 2) Bill [H. B. 13.2022].
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Madam President and members of this august House, I have the honour to present the Second Reading for the Finance Bill which has already gone through the Lower House and I am now bringing it here to the Upper House. The Upper House should make the final decision on the Bill.
Madam President, this Bill seeks to support the raising of resources and to finance our 2023 national expenditure budget of ZWL4.4 trillion. This Bill seeks to target specific areas of focus that will help us in economic transformation and take the economy and the country towards Vision 2030 that of an upper middle income economy by that year. One of the areas that the Bill seeks to support is the issue of economic growth and stability. With such a growth rate of 3% next year, at least it is an improvement. So for you to go above 3.8, this budget is needed for that to be accelerated. It also seeks to make sure that there is proper coordination to the fiscal and monetary authorities as we seek to stabilise the economy and drive our growth forward.
Madam President, the Bill also seeks to support the promotion of value chains. This will lead to higher productivity, higher levels of beneficiation and job creation. All these contribute to the economic growth, especially in the critical areas of SMEs support, mining sector, manufacturing sector and agriculture sector. The Bill also seeks to support the building of confidence in our governance institutions which are necessary for defining the rules of games for commerce and other rules to societal or socio economic interaction.
Madam President, the Bill will also support the optimisation of value from our natural aspects, be they tourism assets or mining assets, maximising value in terms of productivity, job creation and growth but also maximising revenue for the public sector from those kinds of sectors. The Bill also seeks to promote the use of digital economy, the ICT sector and information dissemination and general infrastructure development which has been key to drive the economic performance.
In this regard Madam President, there are specific areas that perhaps one should highlight. One of the areas for example is the reduction of the IMTT tax for those transacting US dollars from 4% to around 2% in line with the Zim-dollar IMTT level. The Bill also seeks to enhance revenues and sources for the health sector by increasing levies on sugar drinks so that we can then capacitate our NCD Fund for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension subsidising the costs of drugs for those afflicted by those NCDs.
The Bill also seeks to make sure that we do not give undue advantage over other sectors. For example, a mining sector, we say that any other sector could receive special economic zone status except for the mining sector where we feel that there are already enough incentives for that sector and therefore there is no need for those privileges to be extended to that sector and that should be reserved for other sectors.
Madam President, we have sought to further formalise the informal sector and they should fiscalise as well, they now have mobile devices even the mobile phones can allow them to fiscalise; hence we talk of virtual fiscalisation. We have also in this Bill submitted that companies ought to submit both their Zimbabwe dollar as well as US dollar tax return. It is clear as to how much tax they are paying and it will be easy for our authorities to assess the taxes payable. It will also be easy for the company as well to make their arguments when there is that clarity.
In this Bill, we have also improved upon the tax free thresholds for our hard working employees, both in the public and private sectors. We have increased the threshold for 0% income tax payment from the 0-900 000 to a limit of 1.1 million.
Finally, we have sought to support our hard working Members of Parliament (MPs), including Members of this august House as they work so hard and have put away monies in the pension fund. We have argued and proposed that those who have served at least two terms and are still serving a third or fourth term, when they hit the age of 65, they ought to be allowed to access their pension or else they will just continue contributing until the day God takes them away. All they would have done is contributing and benefited those who are younger than them and lost elections and those who kept on winning elections have not enjoyed that privilege – we seek to correct that and support our long serving MPs. I thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to debate on this important Bill. I hope this Bill addresses the concerns of the people of Zimbabwe. Civil servants’ salaries are too little and not sufficient for one to embark on a project or even build a house. It is not enough even for food. Your budget should address this issue.
I hope your budget is also addressing unemployed youths who are now abusing drugs. Some of them do not even have identification particulars. You should at least promise them jobs or projects so that they are occupied.
You have tried to repair roads but you have stalled this project. There are a lot of potholes on our roads, especially this rainy season. We have no hope that our roads in the high density suburbs are going to be repaired.
Last year you could not find any drugs, not even Panadol at our major hospitals and you had to buy on your own. We hope this budget is now at 15% as per Abuja Declaration.
We also wish that the Minister arrests the black market. This makes our life very difficult. May the Minister try by all means to come up with measures to curb this challenge?
*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President for allowing me to debate on this Bill that the Minister of Finance brought forward. This Bill has a lot of good ideas.
The New Dispensation which is being led by His Excellency, Cde E.D. Mnangagwa is working hard but because of sanctions, things are not working well. If we do not unite and speak against sanctions, we will not go anywhere, we will continue suffering because we are the ones who requested for sanctions.
SMEs are prevalent in our country and a large percentage of our population are engaged there. We are happy about that and hope that the Minister is going to do something about this. We have Mupedzanhamo Market there at Mbare and we hope it is going to be operational very soon so that our economy is revived.
In the mining sector, there is small scale sector where a lot of people are engaged. We used to have problems with artisanal miners – there were a lot of disputes and people were fighting over ownership of mining rights or claims to work on. We hope that in 2023, Government will rectify this. Miners should plant trees after digging holes at Mukaradzi in Mt. Darwin, Kitsiyatota in Bindura and Jumbo Mine in Mazowe. The Minister of Mines once visited some of these areas. We want these areas to be reclaimed in terms of the environment. The areas must be rectified so that youths can go and start earning their livelihood because they earn their livelihood from there. I would like to applaud you for supporting that sector which I believe is very key to the restoration of the economy of this country.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: I also want to point out a number of positives that I realised from this Bill but maybe before I do that, I also want to express my disappointment on our failure as Zimbabweans day in, day out, to speak against sanctions. In fact, I have heard that all other countries in Africa are speaking against sanctions every day but we Zimbabweans, some of us who went to call for those sanctions remain silent. Madam President, we are struggling to develop this country because of these sanctions that we called for as Zimbabweans. Therefore, I urge all Members, before we go anywhere, let us demonise these sanctions and demand their unconditional removal.
I would then go on to the positives that I noted in the budget. Firstly, the Minister talked about the reduction in IMTT tax from 4% to 2% which is a positive direction. Taxes yes, they bring revenue to the Government but as long as they come hard on our people, then we will not be going anywhere.
Issue number two which is very critical and important is the issue of the informal sector which has contributed much to the development of this country. The only way to go is to formalise them so that they operate well and are well supported.
Thirdly, I would want to commend the Minister for increasing the threshold for all our workers. At least if a large number or large chunk of the small packages that they get is untaxed, at least one could buy a loaf of bread.
Lastly, the support to the parliamentarians; I am very optimistic there. All along, there was no pension and some would die without even a single cent. The fact that the Minister factored in the point of pension goes a long way although I would like to urge the Minister to look at it much closer again because 65 years with the way we are living these days is a bit on the upper side; probably if it could come down the better.
+HON. SEN. DUBE: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to say a few words on the Bill brought by the Minister of Finance. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this pertinent Bill. We also appreciate all measures that are being put in place. People here in Zimbabwe and outside the country are complaining that sanctions are hurting the country. The President is trying his level best for the country. We appreciate what you are doing and the way you distribute the funds to the various departments.
We wish if you can look at health again and education is also important. Children should go to school. We realise that you looked into the issue of education. We would want to thank His Excellency who realised that education is pertinent and has said from 2023, basic education would be free. We appreciate all the measures that are being put in place by the Second Republic. What we request Hon. Minister is; if we could have the funds being distributed timeously so that the departments are able to meet their priorities.
This Bill is important and I can see that the Second Republic is working well being guided by the Lord. We have gone for two years without anything happening because of the COVID pandemic. As a country, we face difficulties because of sanctions. There have been problems in the business sector, especially the SMEs as things were not moving well. We thank you for the budget because we have since realised that there is need for them to be catered for. They are important as they are the very people who are able to make things move in the country. Without these SMEs, things will be tough.
We thank the Minister for this Bill that he has brought. We thank you for the way you have done your things. We do have problems but our Minister is trying his best to bring out something. We pray that the Lord be with us so that these sanctions can be lifted and Zimbabwe will excel. We appreciate your budget and thank you Hon. Minister. Thank you for bringing the Bill at the right time. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to just say a few words to this Bill which has been brought in by the Minister of Finance. First of all, allow me to thank the Minister for taking time preparing this budget. I do not think it was easy because we are just from COVID whereby most of the budget was diverted to COVID and as a result, most of the planned projects that were done...
An Hon. Member’s gadget having gone loud and disturbed the debate.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Aah, Hon Member, order. ICT, can you please help. Hon. Sen. Mohadi, if I call for order, you take your seat. Please take your seat. If it is sorted Hon. Member, you can resume your debate.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President. I was saying that we went through a very difficult year because we had so many problems. However, I do appreciate the budget but my main concern is on the disbursements of funds. The plans for use of funds might be very good but when it comes to disbursement, you find that some of the preparations are not met. There is a lot of delay in that area.
Also looking at the SMEs, I think it is high time they graduate and look at the bigger picture in light of their projects, especially when looking at the women’s side. Most of the times they have been engaging in small projects but it is high time they should think big and they should be assisted in a big way. Madam President, looking at the budget on education in resettlement areas, there is need to re-plan if the plans were ever there. I am looking at the component of the ECD. Schools in these areas are far away from each other and the children who go to ECD are between 3 and 5 years and can hardly walk the 5kms.
Let me thank the President of this country Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa whose mantra is not to leave anyone or any place behind. Now, looking at the set up of the resettlement areas, we need to work harder and put more effort in those areas because those children need our help. As we talk about ECDs in the resettlement areas, the children go to school when they are between 6 and 7 years and they cannot even walk to those schools because of the distances that they are supposed to cover.
Then looking at our Beitbridge Border Post; let me thank the Minister for the border post and the road that leads to the border. If you go there today, you will think that you are not in Zimbabwe. You can even get lost because you may not know which road to take. The decorations that were done are so beautiful. However, even though the border post is so beautiful including those roads, some of us who stay there would really want the Ministry of Home Affairs to take into consideration the security that is there because the border has been completed and it is beautiful but those who are manning the border are putting in place a lot of road blocks. I do not know whether they are necessary or not. Even if they are necessary, there should be an improvement there because the whole system ends up delaying people who are crossing the border. The roadblocks are so close to each other, it is unbelievable. We have to look at reducing the number of those roadblocks, whether they are authentic or not. We have to look at the issue seriously so that we continue with the good things that we are doing. So far our border compared to that of South Africa is outstanding and so beautiful. People are commending the good work done. So let us not spoil the good work that we have achieved. With these few words, I thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to just add a few comments on this motion which I so support.
HON. SEN. C. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President for the opportunity to also contribute to the Bill presented by the Hon. Minister. I have two or three issues that I would want to contribute on. Firstly, I want to touch on the SMEs. Our country is a highly informalised economy and it is important that we have a deliberate budget to address that. We no longer have the industry that we used to have and it is only the small man in the street that needs to be supported with the relevant sister ministries that can ensure that the programmes of SMEs are supported properly. There is incubation and monitoring of these SMEs so that they can grow into bigger companies. That can only happen if we have got a clear programme of action that we follow. I am an advocate for entrepreneurs and we can only do that if we support them as opposed to creating more good employees.
The second issue is the issue of expectation that we have raised in our communities with budget consultations that preceded this Bill that is being presented today by the Minister. The activities happening in communities especially the road construction, which I believe are a life line for some communities should be completed. Government should not spend money on programmes that they start and abandon midway especially on roads. It is when the road is about 80% complete that the work is abandoned and drivers go on to use the road and when the teams that are supposed to be carrying out the construction come back, they have to start from scratch. I am not sure whether at this stage the cost of reconstruction is passed on to Government or is met by the construction company. If the bill is borne by Government, I think we will be wasting money doing the same job twice. My appeal is let these programmes be completed on time Hon. Minister.
My last contribution Hon. Minister would be on devolution funds. My understanding at this stage Madam President is that we do not have an enabling Act that would make sure that the funds that are being distributed are used properly and they are monitored adequately by the relevant people. If we continue to waste resources in that manner where we are not able to monitor as to how those resources are used, I think it is improper for us to continue doing the same things. We need to bring the issue of devolution into finality so that even as the Minister budgets for these, we know that the funds are going to be in proper hands and will be properly accounted for. Minister, it is my appeal that before we get into the next budget, this should have been done so that as you distribute the funds, we know exactly where they are going. I thank you Madam President.
+HON. SEN. D. M. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity. I also appreciate the motion from the Minister of Finance. I have five issues that I would like to touch on. First and foremost, it is on health. This is an important issue. If there is no health, it means everything is useless because you are not able to use whatever resources that are in place because you are not healthy. We appreciate that for appreciating the Minister of Health. It is so painful to take a patient to the hospital hopeful that you are going to restore the patient’s health. On arrival there, you find it is worse. There is nothing because there are no resources. You get a prescription to buy medicine which is priced in USD - because you do not have money, you are then stressed. We are happy if enough allocation is given to the department of Health.
Secondly, I want to talk about education. Education is very pertinent because without it, you are just like an animal or a bird without wings. You cannot fly and ants and other insects bite you. If you are not educated, you may not be able to communicate properly. You just go there in Kenya as a tourist but because of the impediment of lack of education, there is nothing you are able to learn so that you can be at the same level with other countries. Education is very important. We are here in the august House through policies but if you do not understand anything, there is nothing you can change. You just come here to sit. Education is very important because it is the one that is able to help you in all other languages. If you are a bit educated it is better, we appreciate that. The Education sector should be assisted.
Thirdly, it is the issue on pension. I would like to support Hon. Sen. Kambizi. If the age limit could be reduced. We request for that because of the environment that we are living in. There are a lot of things that reduce our living standards. If you do not have enough medicines, when we have diseases one dies early and because of that we request that the pensioners’ age be reduced a bit. Again on education, it leads to the reduction of the age. If someone is not educated, he does not know anything and may decide to take drugs. That causes problems and reduces the life expectancy of that person. The person becomes a vagrant who sleeps everywhere as a result of lack of education. An educated person would differentiate what is good from what is bad. We are not saying if you are not educated you are not a human being but education enlightens you.
Fourthly, other Senators talked about sanctions. None here in Zimbabwe wants those sanctions. There is the mantra that, ‘a nation is built by its own people’, nyika inovakwa nevene vayo.’ Sanctions – it is just like a family set up with the mother and children while the father is away. If you anger each other and if you do not think properly, things will go wrong. People will realise that we have made mistakes - we should not behave like that. Here in Zimbabwe, no one wants sanctions even though they were requested. They cause corruption. Everyone has got problems and they want to help themselves. Someone approaches me to say please go to Parliament and guess, here is USD100 which cannot take me anywhere. I will take it and really because I would have left home without anything. I will think of buying maize and paying fees for the children. Corruption is there. Teachers at school are not getting enough because things are difficult economically. If we can all sing from the same hymn book, I think we will move forward.
Then on the threshold, we are happy with that one because the monies that we are receiving here in Zimbabwe is not much. If these monies are taxed, we remain with nothing. If you look at it, it is like you are taxed three quarters and you are left with one quarter. That makes life difficult and at the end of the month, one develops stress because the money is just little.
Lastly on the SMEs, those SMEs should be helped because they are the backbone of our industry in this country. We should not under rate it. Some big companies came from SMEs. If they can be helped, I think this country can move forward. If you look at the women, they shoulder a lot of responsibilities in this country. If a woman goes to find something, she brings back something but if a man manages to get US$5, he says I cannot take this money home, I will use it anyhow. Women should be helped with resources.
Our Committee once went out to find out about women who access loans. We encouraged them to go and look for those loans. After opening their accounts, they were looking forward that they would get something, but up to now, they are still crying. They opened those accounts but nothing happened. If money could be given to that department, all problems could be solved. There is no country which is 100% perfect. With those few words, I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President for giving me the opportunity to comment and to thank the Minister for bringing his well thought-out budget. I have a few areas which I want the Minister to probably explain or pay his attention to. Our budget is Zim dollar denominated and I do not know how the Minister expects or is proposing the ministries will manage that budget in view of inflation. We may operate it as a Zim dollar budget but in their books, do they say Ministry of Health - we have given you US$2 million and on the day of disbursement you will get an equivalent because if that is not what is happening, it means at the end of the day, Government ministries will not operate under such a budget. I want to know Hon. Minister because this budget will leave us with so many gaps and for a lack of a better word ‘worth discussing’ because it is an aspiration and not practical.
On the next issue that I will touch on, I am sure it has been raised by other Senators here or in the other House. The issue of early disbursements, I think if we just take a cursory look at the disbursement which we got, on average we can say 35% to 40% of the money allocated to ministries was disbursed during the past budget year. If you look at the proposals of the ministries and what they were allocated, - if a Ministry proposes say ZW$100 billion, Treasury would give ZW$20 billion. When he disburses 50% of that ZW$20 billion, effectively he is giving ZW$10 billion. There is need for early disbursements and the need to denominate it as US dollars so that ministries will not be short-changed.
On the same issue, on several occasions our Minister has said ZIMRA is doing very well in terms of revenue collection. For the past two years, ZIMRA almost surpassed its target in terms of revenue collection; where the problem now lies, because our budget is financed by ZIMRA collections, if ZIMRA is performing so excellently, how then do we get to the end of the year with ministries not getting the required money? Where is that money sitting? Where is the bottleneck? I hope the Minister will answer that question and clarify so that we understand the technicalities of that issue.
At the end of the year ministries will only have got 30% of their disbursement but we are told ZIMRA has collected enough money and when we go to our next budget, the money goes back to Government. I have never for these years seen a situation where the Minister says because ZIMRA has collected enough and from my elementary accounting knowledge, I would expect a balance brought forward which will act as a start. I have never seen it for the past years I have been in Parliament. Where is that money going to because it is already collected? I hope today the Minister will answer me and I will get to rest. Those are the challenges which I have with this budget. I feel very sad for the various officers who are working in various Government ministries to try to reconcile and work with this budget. It is a difficult budget to implement.
We appreciate what we are going through as a country in terms of our economic performance but if we look at most of our ministries, monies allocated were mainly for recurrent expenditure. Almost all the budgets of the Ministry, about 70 to 80%, go to recurrent expenditure which means in terms of capital development, the budget does not encourage growth.
I will go to the Ministry of Health in particular Madam President. The Ministry is very much underfunded, I think it is a common secret that our hospitals are underfunded and equipment antiquated. Now when you look at the budget, money which was allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care for capital expenditure cannot even support one single hospital.
Therefore, our budget is basically saying we are employing people to come and sit when they are not performing. It is like having 100 000 soldiers and you do not give them bullets and you are under attack - this is the sort of scenario we are having. Health is actually the determinate of all the other parameters of our economy.
If it is underfunded like in this case, I think we have got a serious problem. All our discussions concerning economic rejuvenation will actually be just an aspiration rather than a reality. So we want a practical budget because there is no justification for the Minister to employ 20 000 people when they are not working, do we really need that? I understand that they were given a moratorium for social ministries to continue recruiting. Why are they recruiting those people when they do not have tools of trade?
I want to urge the Minster; it may be too late now but when you come to your supplementary budget, make sure that supplementary budget is earmarked for capital development in Health, otherwise retrench all the staff. I come from that environment, there is nothing as frustrating for you to be in front of a patient and you have nothing to treat them with. It is actually torture.
Unfortunately, you are not providing psychological care for those health workers. I think we need to take that seriously. I know you are working with a small wallet but those are real issues and they need real attention rather than spending money on recurrent. If you retrench, we will understand you because you are employing them but you are not doing anything, you are just giving salaries.
The other issue is of our foreign debt. I think the Minister is doing a sterling job in trying to make sure that we honour our external debt. It is not a bad idea, if you borrow, you should learn to pay back – it is a good behaviour.
However, I have a problem Madam President, if I borrow from you Madam President and you want me to pay back but you go around and encourage other people not to lend me money that will enable me to generate more money so that I pay you back, it is not good. At the moment what we are facing as a country, the Paris Group of Financial Institutions are the ones we owe more money but for the past two decades, they have not given us money yet they want us to pay. Not only that, they go around the world saying do not pay Zimbabwe. You will hear that Zimbabwe has got its image tainted, it is not tainted by anyone but it is being tainted by those Paris Club Financial Institutions but the Minister is going around in trying to get money to pay them, what for?
I think the issues which we are facing as a nation such as shortage of drugs, children are not going to school yet we want to spend our hard earned dollar paying those debts. Let us put them on hold, probably we will never pay them, nyika haigone kutorwa, we will defend, and we buy guns from our friends for our defence. Definitely those are the issues which we need to articulate, this budget is actually burdening the Zimbabwean populace.
As a nation, we do not need to pay IMF, we do need to pay World Bank because since I was a little boy and now am old; 20 years they have not given us anything. Yes, if you borrow and you do not pay back, they do not have to go around telling everyone to say: do not give him and then you come demanding your money. Those are our enemies, if I were to declare, I will declare them enemies of the State. We do not need them.
Therefore, Hon. Minister, you are spending energy on the wrong things. That is my comment as a citizen and as someone who has suffered from those policies. We do not need to perpetuate those ones. Yes we have got an obligation to pay but the timing is wrong when we do not have drugs, when we are dying and have got hunger.
Madam President, I do not want to keep going on and on. I think those are the few areas which I wanted to highlight vis-a-vis the budget and the motion which has been brought forward by the Hon. Minister of Finance.
I hope the Hon. Minister will do justice and reconsider allocating enough resources to Health. Otherwise next time, we may not be here after we would have passed on because of lack of medical attention. This is not a threat but a reality. No matter how rich you are, if you are involved in an accident, your first port of call is Parirenyatwa or Mpilo casualty department before you are taken to the Avenues clinic or outside the country. At these hospitals, resources to use are not available, so let us assist each other. Hon. Minister, even if you do not give other ministries money, it is okay because all other things come when we are in good health. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHINAKE: Thank you Madam President. I have a few words that I want to talk to the Minister of Finance about concerning the budget that he presented in this House. Minister, when we debate the budget, the whole country is listening and when we go to our communities, people will ask us some questions which we will not be able to answer. We are going to go out for outreaches and we are going to be asked on how the budget is progressing.
There are ministries that are considered to be key in this country. This is not to say other ministries are not important but there are some ministries that affect everyone. One of those ministries is Agriculture. When we talk of agriculture, we are saying we are engaged in farming but here we do not have the farming inputs. We face challenges engaging in farming and we end up selling our livestock in order to get money to buy fertiliser. People are cultivating the land on their own because they cannot afford agro-chemicals that deal with the weeds.
Minister, we are requesting that you look into the budget and should be supportive of the farmers especially when it comes to farming of maize. The farmers are concerned about the pricing system of their produce. It is insufficient and they cannot embark on farming in the next season. Furthermore, it also takes time for them to access the little money that they get from the GMB. Firstly, the money is insufficient, secondly disbursement of funds is delayed. How can someone go back into farming?
Those who are formally employed look forward to getting their salaries end of the month. Those people in the rural areas are also looking forward to selling their grain and use that money to pay school fees or buy uniforms for their children. Once they do not get this money it affects them negatively. Secondly, Zimbabwe is known for being the former breadbasket of Africa and other countries were dependent on us but now we are no longer the breadbasket. What I said Minister is the reason why we are no longer the breadbasket of Africa.When we look at what is happening with the farmers, there may be 800, next year they will be 100 and that number will continue reducing because of these challenges.People should be happy with their farming and should be rewarded the relevant amount.
Minister, we need to look at the Ministry of Industry so that there is production. A country without production cannot develop and is not sustainable. If we are going to import from other countries and sell, we are saying that if we are working 24hours, we are giving them 24 hours to work and supply us. Due to challenges in power, our Ministry does not have production. We need to reduce on our importsforthat will develop our nation. As I speak Minister, what it means is that if we look at the trend in terms of our budgets, it started off in thousands, then it went on to billions and now we are having a budget in trillions because the ministries are not being supported. This is why our figures continue to increase in terms of zeros.
Let us ensure that what we are talking about here is done. Let us implement it. Even if it means people will suffer for some time, it is okay but I am sure if we adequately finance our agriculture and industry we will be able to develop. Zimbabwe has the best soils ; it has the best minerals. If we are to make use of our natural resources we will live a happy life in Zimbabwe. Minister, next year we want the budget to be reduced to billions because once we engage in production through industries and engage in productive farming, it means our currency will gain strength.
Our local currency will become stronger because of production. Our request is yes, the money is inadequate but there are certain things that can be done in order to revive the economy. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA:Thank you Mr. President. We want to thank our Minister for the budget that he brought to this House. Hon. Minister, you have brought a good budget and we realise that you put a lot of effort into crafting this budget. We had a time where we faced challenges as a country in terms of inflation and our currency lost value but the Minister considered this and came up with measures to ensure that our currency does not lose its value. Currently, our nation is stable.
The statement brought by the Minister is commendable. We have issues that we want to mention. Minister, we are facing challenges in terms of sanctions. We have those who do not like us who thought that the country would come to a halt but you have worked hard. We have realised that the roads that we travel, there has been road rehabilitation and the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development has worked very hard. If you look at areas throughout the country, the road network is being rehabilitated. If you look at the Beitbridge-Harare Highway, it is being rehabilitated, so we want to thank the Minister. We know that for the Minister to be able to perform, the money was coming from the Ministry of Finance.
Hon. President, there is an issue that we have realised and we want to thank you for that issue. Our artisanal miners were facing challenges but you were able to finance them. For the artisanal miners, youths and women, we have noticed some growth as well as improvement in livelihoods. We implore you to continue looking into such issues. We will support you Hon. Minister in this Budget for our country to develop.
I also want to talk about the issue of education. The schools were experiencing challenges but you came up with measures. Currently, our children are coming from ECD and progressing. That is only possible through the Budget that you have put in place. You budgeted for primary and secondary education, higher and tertiary education. Our universities are making us proud. This is because of the money that you are allocating to them.
I also want to look at the issue of agriculture. Our farmers, as others, have already said are working very hard in Zimbabwe but the challenge that they face is on the pricing system. For us to pay them their money, I think you need to go back to the drawing board and ensure that they get some of their money in local currency and some should be given in foreign currency so that they enjoy farming. Because of the Pfumvudza Programme, our country is producing well and we are also receiving good rains. We implore you to continue looking at the issue of agriculture so that our people do not struggle.
When we looked at the issue of education, when we heard that teachers are now wanted in other countries, we were all worried. The Minister is trying all that he can to ensure that all people have a source of livelihood. In rural areas, people appreciate that. Hon. Minister, we implore you to continue allocating funds on time for the different ministries. The Ministry of Finance is there to disburse funds. Hon. Minister, we are happy with the work that you have done. With these few words Mr. President, I want to thank you for such leadership. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to also add my voice to the Budget that has been brought by the Minister of Finance in this august House. I want to start by thanking the Hon. Minister for the good job that he is doing in this country because issues to do with finance are always a challenge, especially if the funds are not adequate. He is doing his best with his counterparts to ensure that with the little that we have, our country continues to progress and develop.
Mr. President, I want to thank the Minister on the issue of agriculture. Our agriculture is progressing because they have put in measures together with the Ministry of Agriculture. They have built dams and this has enhanced irrigation schemes. We are aware of the effects of climate change and irrigation schemes assist in this regard. The Pfumvudza Programme is also assisting in terms of farming. Under this scheme, holes are dug and water is retained in these holes and people are able to harvest.
My request to the Minister is that he should work together with the Minister of Housing in terms of building houses. We know there are a lot of measures that have been put in place in terms of building houses. However, they should also look into building houses for uniformed forces. If you are to look at the places where they reside, they are not dignified. My request is that his priorities should be on uniformed forces. As we are seated in this House, we say we are experiencing peace and forget that these are the people who maintain peace in the nation for us to enjoy the peace and tranquility that we enjoy today. Still on that issue, they should know that when there is peace and tranquility, this is the period to train our uniformed forces so that should there be any threat in terms of security, they are readily available to deal with the threat.
Mr. President, I also want to thank the Hon. Minister for the creation of the war veterans league. That brought together the different people who fought for the struggle and are now in the Government system. They have been recognised that they are the ones who fought the liberation struggle. I want to request the Hon. Minister that when we talk about war veterans, we are talking about these people who are making us enjoy the peace and tranquility that we have. They also gave birth to the country Zimbabwe. We are aware that war veterans were struggling in the past. They were not remembered as the liberation fighters. There were statements such as the war veterans should go and ensure that we are colonised again, then we will ensure that we liberate it ourselves. I want to thank the Hon. Minister because he has recognised that the war veterans are the ones who liberated this country for us to enjoy the rights that we have today.
Mr. President, there is the issue of State enterprises. My request to the Hon. Minister is that each and every year we are told that they are making losses and we always hear the Government bailing them out. Hon. Minister, my request is that these companies must be interrogated and investigated as to whether they are operating. It should be known that they are State companies and they should be able to make profits. If there is a loss, the Government should then take measures to ensure that Government funds are not abused through bailing them out. So measures should be taken that if there are losses, it has to be addressed for those companies to be viable. If they are to be assisted, they should obtain assistance for them to start making profit that should then find its way back to the fiscus.
I want to thank the Hon. Minister for addressing the issue of inflation which had become unbearable in this country and I want to thank him for the introduction of the gold coin - this will deal with the issue of rising inflation. We want the inflation rate to even decrease further. We urge him to continue working hard so that inflation reduces. Initially the exchange rate was 1:1 but now it is very high, so we expect the Hon. Minister to look into it so that it goes down to 1:1.
I want to thank the Hon. Minister for Higher Education for introducing Education 5.0. A lot is happening under that module in terms of addressing issues as well as resources. My request is that agriculture which is the backbone of the nation; there is need to address the issue of agrochemicals that are expensive. My request is that you engage Hon. Minister Prof. Murwira to ensure that you address the issue of agriculture as people are facing challenges in terms of dealing with the weeds as well as fertilisers that are needed for our crops to do well.
This will assist us because crops will grow well and this increase their yields, inputs must not be very expensive. Currently, maize seed is very expensive. I request that the seed houses be engaged to ensure that you address the issue of the high seed costs. It is produced here in Zimbabwe but people cannot afford it. This is derailing the agriculture sector.
In conclusion, the work that is done by the Hon. Minister is commendable and we are happy. Still on that issue, we must have foresight as to when we are going to use our own currency and not the US dollar. Other countries, when you visit with US dollars, they tell you to go and change and use their local currency. We are also looking forward to a day where we will also be able to use our local currency. The money will be deposited in banks and it will be controlled by the Reserve Bank not US dollar notes that are kept at home. We need measures to ensure that we return to our local currency. I want to thank you Hon. President for this opportunity you gave me to support the budget that was brought by the Hon. Minister. We want to applaud him for the work done especially in this difficult condition. I thank you.
(V)HON. SEN. B. MPOFU: Thank you Hon. President of the Senate and I thank the Hon. Minister of Finance for the Budget Statement. I would want to contribute on a few items. I think 3 of them, SMEs, REITs and I also wanted to highlight the issue of roads. On the first item, I would like to thank the Minister and I wanted to comment that I hope with the budget that we have approved this time around, come mid-year, the necessary distributions would have been made because if I look at the history of our Ninth Parliament, we made approvals to a number of budgets but the allocation and distribution has not been consistent with the approval and I hope this time it will not happen.
The other issue is, I am happy that that Minister of Finance has highlighted that they have allocated quite an amount of money to the SMEs and to ensure that they do well in the coming budget year. My concern is that we are pumping a lot of money in terms of loans and the banks that are assisting SMEs. I do not think that the SMEs need that. If you look at the ecosystem of banks or the business ecosystem in Africa now, most of the countries are doing very well with SMEs especially helping informal enterprises to become formal. South Africa, Botswana and Malawi have got what they call SEDA which means Small Enterprise Development Agency, which are not there to provide financial assistance. They are there to provide mainly incubation to SMEs, helps them from being informal to formal. If we are talking about the economy being driven by about the informal sector of more than 80%, in Zimbabwe we need SEDA, a development agency that will go and help SMEs in terms of incubation, growth, marketing rather than giving them money which is happening. I remember when we called the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise to talk about incubation; in Zimbabwe we incubated about 30 companies throughout the country. If you look at Botswana and South Africa, South African is incubating over a million using SEDA. I hope that the money the Minister is going to give to the Ministry, they are going to use that money to establish something like that and an agency to help incubate rather than to fund small enterprises.
The market was very excited at the launch of the REITs in Zimbabwe which is a strong property alternative asset class which will increase investor choice within Zimbabwe. Where REITs thrive in most developed countries and in South Africa in particular, they have not encountered property asset class restrictions. I am not sure why we have done that in Zimbabwe. In fact, there is a width and breath of options that has an incentive for investors to provide REITs as an alternative. They use diversification to promote higher retains for restrictions. I am not sure why we went for the restrictions because due to non-existence of asset class restrictions in South Africa, we have seen REITs capitalisation move from 340 billion in 2013 to 650 billion this year which is over 25% in terms of providing - [technical fault] - growth as well as returns to investors. I was therefore very disappointed that in this budget statement, the Minister of Finance restricted Zimbabwe rents to shopping malls, student accommodation and hotels. I believe that while capital attraction in Africa rents have been slow due to investor fatigue, restricting to Zimbabwean rents might result in a red step. I therefore encourage the Minister of Finance to consult players and experts in order to reunite enthusiasm that this asset class has bought to the market. It is my considered view that it will bring the much needed capital to the residential market and help mop up increase and continuously a deficit. I hope that the Minister of Finance really considers that issue of rents.
Finally, I would like to say there should be some effort to be made towards ensuring that the roads around the fore that service that tollgate are actually in good order. I look at the Beitbridge-Bulawayo Road, there are about three tollgates but the road between Nickleson and Beitbridge, I encourage the Minister to go and see that. I am disappointed. Apart from that, I am happy with the rest of the budget and thank you Mr. President for allowing me to make some contributions towards this budget. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to listen to the wonderful contributions to this budget debate which I could respond to their inputs, queries and questions. Let me start with the contribution from Hon. Sen. Komichi. First of all, he mentioned that more needed to be done to support the incomes of our civil servants, the employees but also those in the private sector and also our youth in terms of youth employment. On incomes, in this budget we proposed that the income bands be adjusted. We adjusted them upwards so that the threshold for taxation starts from incomes above ZW$1.1 million going upwards.
For Government employees specifically, you notice sometimes the analysts and some of the commentators tend to leave aside what Government pays in USD allowance which right now is USD200. They just focus on the ZW$ component only. You should take the two together. I think you will find that Government really tried its best under the circumstances to improve the salaries for civil servants. We have not missed our bonus payments since 2018, since I declared that bonuses will be paid as a 13th cheque every year this time of the year except that we have changed a little bit for those who are in the positions of director and above. They will only be paid upon performance assessments which will take effect from January/February next year for 2022 performance and that is when those bonuses will be honoured. The rest of the civil servants, these bonuses are being honoured.
On youth employment, we still have our programme, the Youth Employment Tax Incentive Programme is in place where we give tax rebates to companies that employ members of the youth. This is still in place and we have not withdrawn it. I think we will do so when we think it has stopped working. Also for those who seek to be active in entrepreneurial, we have the support in terms of access to funding from Empower Bank and we have increased the budget for Empower Bank but also the Women’s Bank for female youthful members as well, again there is an allocation for that.
We also have the National Venture Fund in place as well to support the youth but also, I must say something that we have done this year is to budget for the Youth Service Programme. We have set aside ZW$5.5 billion for the Youth Development and National Youth Service Programme.
I now turn to the comments from Hon. Sen. Komichi regarding roads, the state of roads and potholes that perhaps we would have a stop-start situation. Yes, in some of the areas that is correct, because we have had a bit of pours while we implement the value for money concept where we were worried that that this was contributing to instability; Government overpaying for contracts because contractors were overcharging Government and using the exchange rate that will be on the official exchange rate and therefore fuel the parallel market and reducing the purchasing power of domestic currency.
So we had to act and introduce this value for money process. I am pleased to say that the process is going well and right now payments are being made but there are some that still need to be cleared. Once a contractor has been compliant, we pay whatever is required. He also mentioned the issue of drug shortages in hospitals that we should target 15% Abuja target going forward. I agree with him that this has always been our target but because of the resource envelope, we tend not to get to the 15% using Government resources. If you add what development partners are also putting on the table, we find that we get closer to the 15% target.
When you put everything together, you find that the budget for the health sector is not too bad. I think where we need to work harder is on resource deployment, time the budget releases but also prioritisation by the Ministry of Health is also key. I am proposing to say come January 2023, we establish a Coordination Committee between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance which just targets budget utilisation. This Committee would sit every week and see where we are in terms of priority programmes - be it equipment, drug acquisition, physical infrastructure or whatever it is, we will prioritise and make sure the budgets are released. This kind of process is already in place when it comes to the Ministry of Agriculture and it has worked very well.
We have also started doing the same with the Ministry of Transport and now I am proposing that we do the same for the Ministry of Health and that is an internal Government process. It is not for approval by Parliament. I thought I should let you know as a strategy for dealing with the budget for this important Ministry. I now turn to comments by an Hon. Senator that I did not quite catch her name maybe because of the distance, I could not quite see properly; she eloquently expressed that we have this issue of sanctions and these sanctions are holding the economic growth back. We are still trying under these circumstances to come up with a budget and support key programmes that will support the country’s development.
The Hon. Sen. also mentioned the issue of SMES that they need support. I agree with her because they are looking at the infrastructure development which we have budgeted for, whether looking at access to finance for SMEs from SMEDCO, this again we have a budget for that. Some of these SMEs are led by women, so there is access to the Women’s Bank or indeed by youth, they also have access to the Empower Bank as well as the National Venture Fund but SMEs are critical and we should support their formalisation and this budget is trying to do that. Even in terms of payment of taxes, you supported me last year with the introduction of what we call location tax for SMEs, even if the SME is not registered for tax, but the landlord is registered for tax.
So the landlord is then designated as a tax collector. We appoint them as an agent and they collect a presumptive tax from the SME who is renting accommodation and shelter under their building provided the building has got an address, the owner is known and they are registered. I think we have made considerable success in that direction using that model. It is never easy to implement taxes for the informal sector but those are some of the schemes we have put in place.
On the issue of Mupedzanhamo, that it should be opened – I have listened and I will have conversation with the Minister responsible for SMEs and also the Minister of Health because some of the reasons being advanced have to do with COVID and so forth.
The Hon. Senator also eloquently explained the role of our small scale miners. Here as a Government, we have created a US$10 million special fund which by the way you created last year – you supported me in this regard. We set aside US$10 million from the SDRs; that programme is under implementation now and we have identified the first five goal centres that will support the small scale miners. Each goal centre costs about US$1 million. We decided that the first US$5 million will target the five goal centres. The second US$5 million should be used as resources for equipment credit programme run directly by the Minister of Mines where they buy equipment and lend that equipment to the SME gold miners who will then pay back. I hope that the difference will be felt in the not so distant future. The first goal centre was launched in Bubi area just after the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport on the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road. We have targeted areas such as Mazowe, Mashonaland Central; Makaha, Mashonaland East and also Penhalonga, Manicaland and some areas in the Midlands and so forth.
I now turn to Hon. Sen. Kambizi who again spoke eloquently about sanctions and their negative impact on the economy. He also welcomed the reduction of the IMTT tax for USD payments from 4 to 2%. He also spoke eloquently about the need to keep looking at the informal sector and see how it can always be better formalised. I agree with him there. He also welcomed the consideration on the tax thresholds to support our employees right across the economy. He also expressed support for the changes we are making to the pension scheme for our legislature. But he said, can we look at this threshold of 65 years and try to lower that. We will look into it – often these issues need a bit of time to analyse. The experts who are called actuaries by profession are the ones who help us in trying to see whether we have any actuarial challenges, should we lower the age to below 60 or 55; whatever makes sense. I will take it back and we analyse. May be I will be able, at supplementary budget stage or even this time next year 2024 budget; come back with another proposal with a lower threshold. We will study it though it takes a bit of time.
I will now turn to Hon Sen. Dube who basically expressed happiness with the efforts we are making in the budgetary process as a driver of economic development. You also highlighted the issue of supporting the health and education sector – that the budget should speak loudly on these. We tried our best and the education sector received the highest budget.
You spoke again eloquently about the need to release cash timeously and the negative impact of sanctions. On the issue of timely releases of cash, we are always cash constrained because we run what we call a quasi-cash budgeting system where we use whatever cash we receive from tax payers to advance Government programmes or we borrow internally and externally. We do not have access to easy credit lines or direct donor funding that comes into the budget because of sanctions as well as arrears. I am happy to share that when I look at the Budget expenditure so far, if you look at the figures just before I presented the budget, they look like they were on the lower side but ministries have accelerated the use of their budget to the point where some have run out of money. For example Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Defence and many more used their budgets properly and some ran out and Treasury is assisting them through unallocated reserves. That is a good situation - after all, we are midway through the last month of the year. Maybe it should be like that. There are some who have used their budgets quite efficiently. I agree that where we are having delays, we will ensure that we support timeously.
Hon. Sen. Mohadi, thank you for your comments, interventions and appreciation of the effort of preparing the budget. It is quite an effort. If you recall last year, we improved in budget rankings to number 3 in Africa. That is no mean achievement and it is all due to the effort or just the process itself, from the consultations that you as legislators do with our citizens and how we try to go back to citizens afterwards. All of that is measured and then we are ranked globally. It is quite an effort and we try our best. She also mentioned the issue of timely disbursements and I agree with you. It is quasi-budgeting system which is cash dependent. We really try our best and some ministries are performing better than others. I spoke about a Coordination Committee for example, which has worked well with the Ministry of Agriculture – all those things work but I cannot set up a Coordination Committee for every Ministry. We set up this Committee for maybe five key ones that also have large budgets and also whose impact is often felt very quickly by the citizens. That is what I will try to do but wherever I can, I will set up this kind of structure. This is at officials’ level where I do not have to be involved – even the PS does not have to be involved except the Finance Director who has a structured meeting which we monitor.
Turning to the eduction sector, again you were eloquent in explaining that in the resettlement areas, the schools are few and far between. Children at ECD level who are aged 3 to 5 years have to walk long distances to get to schools and you want this issue to be corrected. I agree with you that as we seek to locate these schools, we target these and leave no one behind.
On the border post, thank you for your positive comments on border posts. Beitbridge is certainly a quality facility and I urge all to go and see it. Thank you very much and this border post was built on the back of what we call a build-operate-transfer arrangement where we do a deal with the private sector. We give them a twenty-five year concession to find the money and build the facility, operate it and recover the loans from that. The company borrowed US$300 million. What we have done is we found US$300 million and poured all of that into a small town called Beitbridge. That is an amazing investment in a small place called Beitbridge which will cease to be small as we go forward.
You will see the growth coming through but you did bemoan the too many roadblocks that are making the place rather inefficient and you would want this to be dealt with. I will raise the issue with the Minister of Home Affairs but I am happy to report that we are also trying to look at a single window system to really deal with that congestion which we ourselves create through these multiple stoppages for travellers.
We are also working with the same company to again improve the Chirundu Border Post because we have to find a way to manage traffic end to end, whether it is originating from the DRC side, minerals heading to Durban and they are passing through Beitbridge or the other way round, all the way to Beitbridge, Zimbabwe to Katanga Province or wherever they are headed. We need to manage traffic end to end and so; the same company will assist us in making that Chirundu Border Post more efficient. We will move quickly also to deal with the Forbes Border where we know there is a complicated area.
What we are seeing now is that the number of cars passing through Forbes Border Post now exceeds that of Beitbridge. It is a thousand cars and trucks per day and Beitbridge is now 600. So Forbes Border Post has grown and that is where we have a bigger problem now and it needs to be dealt with. I hope this company will work with us and deal with it. We know in designing that you can expand that border post easily, it is very constricted. We have to come inland and develop almost like a dry port internally near the Chiadzwa area and also deal with the challenge at Christmas Pass because it is very difficult for trucks to come up or go down into Mutare because of the steepness of that section of road. We need to find a way to deal with that. There are certain designs that are being considered.
I now turn to questions and input from Hon. Sen. Ndlovu who again delved into the issue of SMEs that they need support and the budget must speak loudly to that kind of support, especially around incubation. I know exactly what she is talking about. This is something that I used to do for a living personally before I took this job which is running innovation and incubation facilities for SMEs. I know exactly what you are talking about and we will work hard to do exactly that and incubate these SMEs so that they grow formalised and they become medium if not large companies going forward.
It does require also re-engineering certain things and really creating what we call a full entrepreneurship ecosystem. These SMEs operators, some of them need training to upgrade their businesses with simple things like budgeting, marketing, development and strategy and proper business planning. They need those skills so that they can acquire those skills and on the back of those, they receive further funding and they are incubated with that kind of support. Once they are incubated with that kind of support, that process also involves setting up even a network of more experienced business people who can then mentor them if we are really serious about upgrading. That is what it takes so I understand what Senator Ndlovu is talking about.
On the budget consultations which have raised expectations around road construction; why the roads have slowed and not been completed. As I explained, this had to do with managing our procurement processes. Those roads are going to carry on and we will finish them. On devolution funds, there is mention of the Bill which needs to be expedited so that it can give us the legal framework to be able to release funding. For now, we are making use of the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill themselves to say these are also Bills of Parliament. So, they are giving us authority to disburse funds and so forth but I agree with you that this Devolution Bill needs to be finalised and we should be able to do it during 2023.
I now turn to Hon. Sen. Ndlovu who is one of the most eloquent people I have ever listened to in Ndebele. Those of you who speak the language, I think you will agree with me. She is very colourful. I was asking Hon. Chiduwa to say what do you call someone like that in Shona? He said munhu ane hunyanzvi pakutaura/umuntu oligabazi ekukhulumeni. Thank you for your linguistic prowess and you were very eloquent on a lot of areas; be it health, the issue of making sure we give adequate support to the sector and the issue of education which I agree with you. You were also happy with the pension proposals that were put across and also the need to really acknowledge that sanctions are hurting us but nevertheless, we have to keep going.
You also spoke on the issue of corruption and the tax reductions we have done, the changes in thresholds but also the IMTT tax reduction. Also, you spoke about the need to support SMEs which I have already tried to speak to, particularly women entrepreneurs. I do not know when you last checked about the default rates or let me call it repayment rates at the Women’s Bank. The Women’s Bank has a higher repayment than the other banks that are meant to support target groups. When we give women money, they pay back and that is something that we should applaud. I agree with you that the more resources we use to support entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, the better as we have no risk of losing money and we tried to do that in this budget.
Hon. Sen. Mavetera talked about denominating the budget in ZWD but that inflation will then overtake us, and causing these numbers to keep going up and we are already in trillions. In constructing this budget, we have already taken into account the inflationary expectations and that is why these numbers are large. You see inflation is both real but also technical when you report it. It is technical in the sense that if you have got a low base the previous year and inflation just moves up slightly, the impact is a very large figure because the base is low. If your base was high and you have got even a large increase, the impact will be less in terms of reported inflation because the base is higher so the base matters.
Right now, we are suffering from a base problem which is what has slowed down the movement of prices. You see that in the month-on-month inflation which is falling, the annual inflation is still high because of the base effect when you compare the index this year compared to the same time last year. Sorry for going back and forth but that is what is really going on. That is both a technical effect and real inflation effect but we have taken that into account Hon. Senator.
On timely disbursements as I said, it looks like they were slow at the beginning of the year but we accelerated and some have even finished their budgets but it is an issue that we continue to watch and I will set up these coordination committees for some key budget users, Ministries that are budget users. On revenue collection, ZIMRA exceeding targets but the cash is not flowing. As I said, we are dealing with this matter in terms of these coordinated meetings and also following up on utilisation in key ministries.
On rolling over budgets, this one Senator, we cannot do that because you all know the laws that you passed here. I just came in as Minister four years ago and assumed the use of those laws that do not allow us to do that. So, every year is a new year. What we do is what we call zero budgeting. If you do not consume all your resources, they go back to Treasury and the following year we start afresh. That is why even in the circulars where we ask the ministries to submit their bids and so forth, they start afresh. We do not say where were you last year as a Ministry? Let us just build from there. We start from zero and there are roll-overs that we do.
On the issue of the health sector and so forth, I am not so sure if it is really about the level of resource allocation. It is about the utilisation of the budget and I have a proposal for dealing with this in terms of the coordination committee but you talked specifically about the capital budget. I will look into that to see whether we should be allocating more towards the capital budget, which is equipment. It is a very valid point but there is something that as a doctor he should help us with. I am not expecting him to answer but I want to introduce him. Have you seen the number of new small private hospitals that are mushrooming all over Harare? Dzakawanda. Then you say it yourself, so private hospitals are growing but public hospitals are suffering, what is really going on? You then visit these private hospitals and they have good doctors, good equipment, medicine is available and of course it is expensive but the public hospital has all the challenges that the Senator mentioned. So are we not able to find a model where the private sector players and the public sector hospitals work together in public/private partnerships so that ordinary citizens can also access services from the private hospitals, maybe even under a subsidy programme where we say to a medical doctor, every month we want you to treat 10 ordinary citizens who cannot afford your services? For that, government will give you a subsidy. I am just thinking aloud because I am failing to reconcile these mushrooming private hospitals. Actually, if you look around you really wonder whether we have a real health crisis or what we have is access to health services by the vulnerable. But those who can afford are getting good services. I think we somehow need to find a bridge between those two. In a sense it is homework for us in government and not for the Hon. Senator. I was just being loud about my suggestions.
Then on the foreign debt, the Hon. Senator was eloquent that perhaps we should not be paying these token payments because we are getting nothing from these parastatals but we are getting something. Only that they do not wish to put those resources through central government but want to use other structures such as UNDP and so forth. The monies are coming but it is not at the same level as before, so it is a lot smaller but it is coming. Our view was that we cannot clear our debts if we do not even begin to show that we are good debtors. It is important to make these token payments and it is not strenuous on us as a government because we are able to make these small payments. That has made the mood and relationship between us as a country and the Paris Club better. It has really changed a lot of things and I feel it. I get invited to the Paris Club to discuss, speak and participate. It is as if we have cleared the debts from the way they receive us as a country. It is very interesting. I think we should continue to make these token payments. It is not strenuous and helps us with conversation regarding our arrears clearance and we have a strategy that we are currently implementing. We have asked the President of the African Development Bank to act as a champion and he is doing a good job. We also asked the former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano, assisted by the former Prime Minister of Mozambique Madam Luisa Diogo to help us with the whole process of managing our arrears. We had the first meeting on 1st December at the HICC and we will have our second meeting on the 27th January, 2023.
I now turn to Hon. Senator Chinake who talked about support for agriculture and to make sure we have the right prices and also to ensure we pay on time. I agree with him that we need the right prices but I think that also as government, we are making sure we are sensitive to where the market is in the first place and make sure we offer prices that are as close to the market prices as possible. We do not want a situation where maize from GMB is more expensive than imported maize. As a result, companies will then prefer to import than buy from GMB and that causes confusion and disequilibrium in the market. We are making sure the prices are as close to the market prices as possible and that is the right thing to do and certainly we will ensure we endeavour to make payments on time.
We are doing well in agriculture. In the last winter season, our wheat output was the highest in a very long time, probably since 1960 when we are talking about a tonnage of over 350 000 metric tons of wheat, which is really impressive in an era where every other country in the world has trouble finding wheat because of the global tensions. We would want to continue with this kind of record, going forward. We need to support industry. I agree and we have made an allocation to IDC which has moved down in the last couple of years. We are pleased with this and their budget utilization as a Ministry by the way has gone up to more than 80% and it is going in the right direction.
I now turn to Hon. Sen. Chirongoma who has expressed happiness with the budget and the policies we have implemented which have brought stability on the macro-economic front. We also acknowledge the negative role of sanctions, the road construction being positive; we will continue to accelerate there and then, the need to continuously support the education sector and agriculture again through this budget. We have tried hard to support those two critical sectors.
Then Sen. Tongogara expressed happiness in the agricultural sector, particularly around dam construction. If you look at it now, basically every province has a major dam that has been constructed. We have left no province behind. Some of them have a lot more dams and we want to complete the Gwayi-Shangani dDam. Chivhu Dam is virtually done and still to be completed is a small spillway which will cost about US$3 million, we will clear that and then it will be commissioned. By the way, that Chivhu Dam has got the most advanced water treatment plant for any dam in the country. It has all computer controls, mixes its own chemicals, does all manner of things with no human interaction. It is really advanced in terms of technology. There is a dam that we have set aside for the private sector to assist us with, which is the Runde-Tende Dam. We were trying to raise funding, working with some private sector players from outside because we believe that dam could support South Africa in terms of water access, especially the Limpopo Province which is drier. So, we believe that by being able to get into those commercial arrangements that will allow us to access funding working with the private sector to develop the Runde-Tende Dam. Tuli-Manyange Dam is also underway and we will push it forward. For the other remaining dams, we need to accelerate the irrigation development. That is very critical getting that water onto the land, Tokwe-Mukosi, Muchekeranwa and Chivhu. For some of them we have made progress. Chivhu already has an irrigated area which involves ownership by the community. In fact, I think the best model is in Lupane, with the Bubi-Lupane Dam where the community has shareholding in the irrigation scheme. They also provide labour and they get paid salaries every month. It is incredible how that has transformed that part of the country. We now have wheat growing out of sand. We never thought wheat could grow in that type of sand and high temperatures such as in the Lupane area.
On the housing sector, Sen. Tongogara said that I should support the Ministry of Housing to enable them to provide houses to our uniformed forces. I agree with her and we have tried hard to accelerate housing development in areas like Dzivarasekwa but also in certain barracks where houses are really dilapidated such as William Ndangana Barracks in Manicaland and also the Amaganyana Barracks in Plumtree. I am highlighting those two because they are really in a bad state and we are going to accelerate the housing development.
Turning to war veterans, Hon. Sen. Tongogara mentioned that our commitment to war veterans’ budget is a statutory issue. It is a constitutional issue. That budget/action is non-negotiable. We always support war veterans’ salaries and allowances and other support areas. We are determined to do that. Note that in the Budget, we have set aside ZWL41.4 billion for the allowances and then just over ZWL2 billion for those who were injured during the war. That is a statutory issue. I can assure you continued support. They need to support State owned enterprises so that they contribute fully to the growth of the economy. You also expressed happiness to the gold coins and now we have issued the smaller denominations so that citizens have more access to this product. I really agree with you in getting Ministry of Higher Education supporting them to develop technologies for chemicals and fertilizers to support the agricultural sector. That Ministry has already requested for support in projects in the Mwenezi area where there is a large coal deposit. They believe that researchers could come up with the technology for turning that coal to develop fertilizer. We believe them, they are good researchers and we are going to support the Ministry and follow up on your proposal.
On that one day we should just use the Zimbabwe dollar and not USD, I agree with you. One day this will happen. We are only going through a transition. I did not quite hear all of Sen. Mpofu’s contributions but I was able to pick up the contribution around SMEs that we need to support SMEs which I agree with. He also mentioned something about the property sector where this House supported me when first of all we declared that Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), are investment instruments that are meant to support investments in the property sector. The company called Tigere which has developed the Madokero Mall which was commissioned by the President on Friday last week; have also developed the Highlands Mall along Enterprise Road. That company is the first company to issue REITS and those REITS are going to transform the property sector and drive some of the urban development that you see. That is really positive and I heard that he wanted us to do more and even promote the development of property funds and I agree with him.
Mr. President, I would like to stop here with responses. We have covered quite a bit and I now therefore move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (NO. 2) BILL [H. B. 13, 2022]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 23 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With Leave, forthwith.
FINANCE (NO. 2) BILL [H. B. 13, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON PROF. NCUBE): I move that the Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): The Appropriation Bill seeks to support the budget of $4.4 trillion that I presented on the 24th of November, 2022 with Vote Appropriations of $3.7 trillion, and the Constitutional and Treasury Appropriation which includes pensions, inter-governmental transfers of $781.3 billion.
Section 3 of the Appropriation 2022 Bill, charges the Constitutional Revenue Fund with a sum of $3. 6 trillion which relates to the 2023 Vote Appropriations. Section 4 of the Appropriation 2022 Bill charges retained funds with a sum of $46, 6 billion which relates to the 2023 Vote Appropriations.
Mr. President, the purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the 2023 estimates of expenditure that were presented to the National Assembly. I seek approval for the National Budget of $3. 7 trillion to cater for provisions and reforms towards the achievement of 2030.
Mr. President, in line with the NDS1, the 2023 National Budget priorities areas such as economic growth, stability and strong collaboration between fiscal and monetary policy authorities, it seeks to buttress the current fiscal and monetary policies that are anchored on maintaining and sustaining the stability that we are currently experiencing.
It seeks to support the productive value chains that will also promote the growth of SME’s and other critical sections of our economy. It also seeks to support the effectiveness of our institutions of governance and strengthening and build these institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, or indeed the Office of the Auditor General.
The budget also seeks to support the image building efforts, re-engagement and engagement by supporting the Ministry of Information and Publicity and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs to carry out those mandates.
The budget also seeks to optimise value for natural resources in order to benefit from value addition opportunities arising from the abundance of our natural resources and recovery of strategic minerals like lithium which presents opportunities to the economic transformation and inclusive growth.
The Bill also seeks to support infrastructure development, ICT sector development and the whole digital economy. Finally, the Bill seeks to promote empowerment programmes for the youth, women and also to support social safety nets for vulnerable citizens of our society.
Mr. President, Section 6. 1 of the Bill empowers the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to transfer funds already approved by Parliament between Votes in respect of a function or responsibility transferred between ministries and departments during the course of the fiscal year.
Section 6.2 of the Bill allows discretion of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to transfer funds from the Unallocated Reserve which appears on the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Vote to any other Vote as and when the need arises in order to meet inescapable expenditures.
In addition and if necessary, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development can virement the amounts so transferred by taking back some surplus for re-allocation to other ministries of need in order to again to accelerate the implementation of Government programmes.
I am therefore presenting to this august House, the Estimates of Expenditure for 2023 and the accompanying Appropriation (2023) Bill for consideration and approval by Hon. Members. Mr. President, I move that the Bill be read a second time.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Thank you Mr. President. I have here the Appropriation Bill 2023 and some figures are in red, for example for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. May I please be enlightened on what that means? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank Hon. Tsitsi Muzenda for her query regarding the figures that are in red. It was just meant to highlight those ministries where we adjusted the figures in the Lower House. It was just for emphasis, those red figures are in fact the new figures because for example in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that she referred to, we increased the amounts that were allocated to the welfare of prisoners under that Prison Department. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H.B. 14, 2022]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 and 2 put and agreed to.
On Clause 3:
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Sorry Chair. Under Clause 3, under the section on power of Minister of Finance and Economic Development to authorise transfers between Votes, I just want to highlight that on the second paragraph, where it says in the case of monies appropriated by Section 3 in respect of Unallocated Reserve, Vote 5 - Vote 5 is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Vote, amounting to $69,506,170 000. That figure, I was informed by the staff of Parliament that in the version of the Bill that you circulated, it was just a typing error but all of this has now been corrected. I just wanted to make sure…
An Officer of Parliament having approached the Minister of Finance.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Madam Chair, I withdraw what I have just said. They have corrected me again. I thank you.
Clause 3 put and agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 7 put and agreed to.
Schedule put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
APPROPRIATION (2023) BILL [H. B. 14:2022]
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): 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 Senate adjourned at Half past Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 31st January, 2023.