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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 19 DECEMBER 2018 45 NO 26

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 19th December, 2018

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

VERIFICATION OF BIO-DATA INFORMATION

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, I have to remind all Hon. Members to verify the details on their bio-data forms before the information is uploaded on the Parliament website. Public Relations Officers will be stationed in the Members’ Bar, between 1400 hours and 1630 hours from today until Thursday, 20th December, 2018 for that exercise. The deadline for submitting correct information is Friday, 21st December, 2018.

Hon. T. Mliswa having been conversing with another Hon. Member.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Mliswa and your colleague there, this is very important, we need that data for posterity in the annals of this Parliament.

COLLECTION OF PRESIDENTIAL PORTRAITS

THE HON. SPEAKER: Additionally, Hon. Members should collect presidential portraits for their constituencies from the same Public Relation Officers.

HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I rise on a motion of privilege under Standing Order Number 68 (d) read together with Standing Order Number 69.  My motion of privilege Hon. Speaker arises from the fact that yesterday the Head of State released for public consumption, the findings of the August 1 Violence Incident Report that happened in Harare. Therefore, since it was a Government duty and exercise, it is the role of Parliament under Section 119 (3) of the Constitution which I read as a quote, “for the purpose of sub-section (2) all institutions and agencies of the State and Government at every level are accountable to Parliament.”  I therefore move, with the leave of the House, that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs table the report known as the Motlanthe Report and its findings  for debate in this Parliament.  - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -  it will be very amiss and in respect to the judgment of Hon. Justice Chidyausiku in the case of Jonathan Moyo versus Austin Zvoma in 2010, the Supreme Court sitting as a full bench said, ‘Parliament is the highest concentration of political leadership.’ Therefore the report in its snippets so far released by the President only on media, as we saw it, details that some of the issues to be addressed require political will.  It is therefore incumbent upon this House, heavy housing political leadership across the political divide to be able to debate and give their input.  Moreso importantly is that there are issues that talk to the alignment of electoral laws - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, can you conclude. 

HON. CHIKWINYA: There are issues that talk to the actions of Parliament and therefore it is only incumbent that the Minister, being the interface  between the Executive and Parliament, it is incumbent that the Minister being the interface between the Executive and Parliament brings that report for debate in this House.  I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –

An. Hon. Member having stood up to raise a point of order.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order, order!  Hon. Members, be familiar with Standing Orders.  A point of privilege was raised and I have not yet ruled.  Please revise your Standing Orders. 

Hon. Chikwinya, I will ask the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government business to respond accordingly. 

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Indeed the report is in the public domain and it is within the rights of Parliament to discuss any document that is in the public domain, so we will consider it – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –

An Hon. Member having stood up to raise a point of order.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  No point of order can be raised unless there is a debate that is going on now.  I have said no point of order because there is no debate.  No.

FIRST READING

TRIPARTITE NEGOTIATING FORUM BILL [H. B. 5, 2018]

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DR. NZENZA) presented the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill [H. B. 5, 2018].

Bill read the first time.

Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 2 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FINANCE BILL: BUDGET DEBATE

First Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion for leave to bring in a Finance Bill.

Question again proposed.

HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise to add my voice to the debate on the 2018 Budget presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the 22nd of November, 2018 which is dubbed the austerity for prosperity.

The Budget is a well thought out Budget, given the state of the economy that we are trying to address, given the limited options that are available, the volatility of the economies that surround us and our historical background.  For any meaningful development to take shape, we have to invest in our infrastructure.

The Hon. Minister of Finance went all out to identify e-Government projects that are going to assist in the revival of the economy. 

Hon. T. Mliswa having greeted Hon. M. Mliswa who was just entering the House.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. T. Mliswa, follow the protocol of Parliament – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -  

          HON. CHOMBO: Our economy is endowed with natural resources which if well managed, the economy of Zimbabwe is going to take off very well.  We need to computerise our systems and in that respect, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development identified e-Government projects that are going to be the bedrock of development and revival of the economy. 

He has set aside $42,6 million to implement e-Government systems.  These are going to assist to establish the national data centre; establish community information centres; maintain the Government systems and to that tune, he allocated $13 million to ZIMRA to improve the ASYCUDA system.  – [AN HON. MEMBER: What is ASYCUDA - iyoyo] – iyoyo. – [Laughter.] -  It is an automated system.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.  Hon. Member, do not be sidetracked, address the Chair.

HON. CHOMBO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker for the protection.  As I was saying, $13 million was allocated to ZIMRA to improve on the ASYCUDA system.  ASYCUDA system is a system that has been set up to improve efficiency in tax collection and ease of doing business and it enables pre-clearance of goods and free movement of people at our ports.  It also assists to plug in the leakages, thereby hinder some corruption.  It also assists in the revenue collection and also increases our tourism.

He set up a budget of $1,7 million for the CADASTRAL system which is to address the mining problems and disputes that are happening in Zimbabwe.  Mining contributes a big chunk to the GDP and the CADASTRAL system is going to address and register the titles and also the rights, and enhance on the security of tenure.  It also assists in the registration of new licences.  There has been a problem with the Ministry whereby most of the miners have these mines for speculative purposes and this CADASTRAL system is going to address the ‘use it or lose it’ policy.  These policies are before the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and as they are addressing the Bill that was returned by the President in the Eighth Parliament, they are going to address it using that CADASTRAL system.

There are many e-Government projects that were budgeted for in the 2019 budget.  We have seen that there is a budget set aside for schools labs, which is about $2 million.  There are e-Government flagship projects with another $2 million; there is voice over internet which was budgeted for $12 million and the ICT budget was allocated about $81 965 000.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  May I direct the tenure of the debate.  The whole purpose of debating the budget is to assess the impact or intended impact or otherwise of the budgetary allocation where these allocations meet the intended goals or not. That should be the tenure of our debate and not repeating what the Minister allocated. – [AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker.] – Order, order, do I really need those accolades?  Please proceed.

HON. CHOMBO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  As I said, the budget was well thought of looking at the environment that is surrounding the economy of Zimbabwe.  However, in my conclusion, I implore that the Hon. Minister looks into computerising our Parliament.  We yearn for the time when we can have a paperless Parliament.  Our Parliament should be fully computerised so as to improve the efficiency and for us to realise the vision of being a world class Parliament.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. RAIDZA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise to add my voice to the 2019 budget that was presented to this august House by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  From the budget, I have discovered that it is pro-poor in many respects.  Our budget is touching on a number of key issues that affect our people like that of infrastructure.  Our budget has put up an amount of $2,6 billion to be invested in infrastructure and that represents 31% and also there will be a number of issues that will be impacted like roads, irrigation schemes where our people will be having enough food to eat.

 It also impacted on the issue of devolution where they have a budget $310 million and 76% of that amount, which is $235 591 000 is going to the Rural District Councils.  It was said depending on a number of variables we believe that these amounts that were distributed to the Rural District Councils and to other councils will benefit our people. 

If we also look at the issue of food security, we have seen that our budget has allocated over $900 million to agriculture to support the farmers and our 2019 budget also seeks to encourage the private players to support the Government efforts to secure a number of activities in the agricultural sector like the construction of dams, research and development, extension services and mechanisation of the agricultural industry.

Our 2019 budget also touches on the issue of sanitary wear by taking away the customs duty on sanitary pads, Mr. Speaker Sir.  By so doing, the budget seeks to make the sanitary pads available to our women and girls.  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  Can you kindly lower your voices please?

*HON. CHIKUNI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to add my voice on the budget.  I want to thank the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for bearing a burden when things were not okay.  I want to thank him for taking up the chance by allocating money to the war veterans.  The war veterans were living in poverty for a long time without their budget.  If you get the chance, you can add more funds. 

Finally, I want to thank you for the devolution.  I want to thank you for giving out money to start the work of devolution.  When the work has started on provinces it will then cascade to districts, villages and to cells.  So work will be done.  Thank you Mr. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order!  Let us keep cool Hon. Members. – [AN HON. MEMBER:  She was giving a vote of thanks.] -

HON. P. DUBE:  Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for the opportunity.  I will go straight to my issue in terms of my observation of this budget.  I am informed by the budget to the effect that the National Prosecuting Authority has been allocated some money by the Minister which amounts to…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  By the Hon. Minister.

HON. P. DUBE:  Yes, my apologies - by the Hon. Minister which amounts to about $8 million against the budget for the counterpart in the same field in the form of the Judicial Service Commission which has been allocated about $44 million.  The net effect of this in terms of the justice delivery system is that we have seriously undermined the foundations and fundamentals of the rule of law in Zimbabwe in the sense that we have subordinated financially one arm which is equally important to the other for the reason that cannot be practically justified.

There is no justification practically, on why the National Prosecuting Authority would be given this amount under the circumstances, especially taking into account what the Minister has been preaching about - the issues of corruption, the issues of the fears of the leakages and the custodians of that. The people who must be monitoring on behalf of Government in this Parliament is the National Prosecuting Authority and they are expected to be prosecuting high level criminals – [AN HON. MEMBER:  So what is your suggestion?] -

The suggestion is simply that this is unacceptable and must be reviewed upward because this is not even consistent with the vision of the Minister himself and as if that is not enough, we have the Anti Corruption Commission.  Again, it has been allocated an amount which I am seeing here as $6 million.  These are the people that are supposed to be investigating corruption, looting and investigating every challenge that we have faced financially in this country.  One ordinary suspect may be facing a charge of about $50 million and there is a risk if the whole institution is at a value of $6 million.  I will take this as the value that you are giving to this Commission.  If they are valued at $6 million and they are supposed to recover for you billions, what it means practically is that you are giving a serious temptation to this Commission never to function.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will address you again on the important Commission which is the Human Rights Commission.  Our history as a country makes it very important.  We are a constitutional democracy and a Human Rights Commission is a very important stakeholder in terms of how we can fulfill the human rights agenda of this nation.  With the amount that has been allocated to the Human Rights Commission which is $3 million, there is a risk that this Commission, when it was established was actually given an A grade which means there was a belief from the international human rights community that they were meeting the minimum requirements of what a human rights body must be made of, but what has happened with this budget is that by 2020 when the second rating is done, they are going to be condemned. The consequences of that and how they can only be downgraded, I am sure are known by the Minister.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  The Hon. Minister.

HON. P. DUBE:  The Hon. Minister, Mr. Speaker Sir.  The net effect of the downgrading actually goes a long way in even affecting the donor funding or partnership of the Human Rights Commission. The condition for the second grading is actually based on decentralisation where this Commission was given five or so years to have decentralised to every province for them to retain that A grade.  Now that they have $3 million, it is not possible to even set up one office in another province. What it simply means is that we have actually shot ourselves in the foot.  In as much as we cry about sanctions and other things, we actually at times sanction ourselves by doing certain things that ordinarily directly attack us.  So, I do not believe if we know the function of this Commission we would give them $3 million, if we know how they hold even the reputation of this country. 

I will also proceed to the Gender Commission.  The Gender Commission has been allocated $2 million. The danger of this is that, it confirms that this Government or this country is not committed at all to gender issues – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – This Commission is also supposed to decentralise, not only to every province but this one must go to every district and every ward because the gender issues are actually ward based.  The danger of doing that is also that, we are confirming to the whole world that we do not care about gender issues because it is the budget that reflects our commitment to everything that we want – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I am happy that there has been an allocation to the Council of Chiefs of $5million.  I believe this is very important, provided that this gives the independence required of these Chiefs’ Council because there is no secretariat in this institution and the risk is that if you make a paper trail, this money is ending at the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and not directly to the chiefs.  What it means is that it subordinates the chiefs who, in terms of our Constitution, are an independent and apolitical body which must be able to serve everyone – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – The reason why they have not been able to serve everyone is because they are supposed to be reporting to District Administrators (D.As) and Provincial Administrators (P.As) because of the resources.  So, Hon. Minister, on this particular aspect, my advice will be that; there be a quick issue in terms of allowing this Chiefs’ Council to have an independent secretariat and they run their resources so that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – they are independent from the Minister.  They must not be controlled by anyone.  The only way they are controlled is through resources.  I am sure that even if the chiefs were to come, they will confirm that they require that independence and integrity and reputation that their offices are bestowed with. 

          Therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, it is my submission that we must reflect our constitutional values of a country that is committed to make our institutions function as they are supposed to and in the process, be able to resource well.  So, the consequences of the budget in summary, to my observation, is that; it seriously undermines the constitutional foundations of this country as it fails to give adequate resources to those institutions that are supposed to assist Parliament and the Executive to properly function and to properly discharge of its mandate.  So, these will be my remarks – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – [HON. MLISWA: Haa charova, charova.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.  That language Hon. Mliswa is unparliamentary.

          HON. MLISWA: I withdraw Mr. Speaker Sir.

          HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I was really astounded and flummoxed Mr. Speaker when Hon. Raidza described this budget as pro-poor. Mr. Speaker Sir, I do not know which budget he was referring to.  With due respect Mr. Speaker Sir, I actually doubt on whether he has gone through the provisions of the budget for him to come to the conclusion that this budget is pro-poor.  To the contrary, this budget is actually anti-poor and I will illustrate it as I go along in my debate. 

However, before I do that, I would like to say that one of the challenges that we have with this particular budget is that, it does not have an ideological thrust.  One does not understand from which ideological perspective the Hon. Minister and the Executive are coming from.  You will find that the Hon. Minister, in terms of the budget, has talked of austerity for prosperity.  It is quite clear from the sentiments expressed by the Hon. Minister and his principal that they have become disciples of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan who are neo-liberals.  On the other hand Mr. Speaker Sir, you find that the regime appears to have an admiration of the Chinese mode.  You cannot follow both the Chinese Model and the Thatcherism politics because they are two different things.  So, it is very critical for this Executive to be very clear as to what their ideological perspective is.

In my respectful submission Mr. Speaker Sir, this budget shows the ideological bankruptcy of this Government – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, you will find that when the Hon. Minister introduced the taxation measures, he showed his disdain for the law.  If you recall in October, the Hon. Minister just woke up one morning and stated that he had introduced that 2% tax.  There was no legal basis or legal foundation before we even go to the moral aspect of consultation.  Let us talk of the legal foundation.  With due respect to the Hon. Minister, this is something which is really elementary; I know that he is a Professor of Mathematical Finance, but it was just a matter of consulting my good friend the Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi to understand and appreciate what were the legalities surrounding the introduction of that intermediated tax.  The Hon. Minister had to eat a humble pie later on because there was no regulation.  He simply made an announcement that from the 1st of October, all electronic transactions were subject to a 2% tax.    So, Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to urge the Minister, firstly to ensure that he consults from that legal perspective.

There are also other questionable measures which again show that the Hon. Minister has not done his home work.  My colleague Hon. Biti already mentioned about the increase in the traffic fines from $30 to about $700.  However, I will now go to the moral aspect Mr. Speaker.  It was imperative and critical for the Hon. Minister to try to get a buy-in to find out what the sentiments of people in Business regarding that particular tax are.  As it turns, that is very unpopular and it is across the political divide.  I know that some of my colleagues seated on your right will not have the courage to actually say so in this august House.  However, outside the confines of this Chamber, they have already expressed disquiet over that particular tax – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I know Hon. Chinotimba is in agreement with me on this one.  He may not be able to say so in this august House but I certainly know that he is in agreement with me in this august House. 

At the end of the day Mr. Speaker, it is important for any of these measures, before they are implemented, to have a broad consultation so that there is general acceptance. The second point before I go into the contents of the actual budget which I want to talk about which are key ingredients for any budget to succeed is the question of trust and the question of confidence.  I will use this illustration - Hon. Gonese explains holding a US dollar note. -  This is a piece of paper [AN HON. MEMBER: Nhai nhai.] – it is not even about the quality of the paper on which it is printed but it is about the confidence that people are told that this is a US dollar,  even if you use cheap quality paper to print it they are very, very comfortable with it because they have got trust and confidence in it.  On the other hand, Mr. Speaker Sir, when you look at - [AN HON. MEMBER: Ndipei ndikubatirei.] – at this which is called the bond note, it is not about the quality of paper, it might even have a better colour but the point is that people do not have confidence, they do not have trust in it – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          I want to say Mr. Speaker, because for us to go forward, it is very, very important that we move along with the populace so that people have got confidence in what we are saying and in what we are doing.  It is like going to the rural areas and try to say to an old woman/man or villager that a donkey is the same as a cow and say to them that you can exchange the two, no one will believe you and accept it.  It is evidence and so clear that the two are different and this is what the Hon. Minister wants to do to try to pretend that things which are not equal are equal. 

          However, Mr. Speaker Sir, the Hon. Minister might have been given the benefit of the doubt at the time of his appointment.  Before he came back to the country, he actually indicated at one point that ‘bad money chases away good money’ he said that the ‘bond note will have to go sooner rather than later’ and those were his words – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Furthermore Mr. Speaker Sir, when he was at Chatham House in London, the Hon. Minister was very, very clear that the market had spoken and that the bond note and the US dollar were not equal.  When he went to Bali in Indonesia, he was now singing a different tune.  The problem which we have Mr. Speaker is that people no longer have got the confidence in the Hon. Minister in the same way as people do not have confidence in the Executive because of their past pronouncements and their past inconsistencies and it looks like the Hon. Minister is following in those same footsteps – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

The third aspect Mr. Speaker Sir, which I want to focus on is the issue of insensitivity on the part of the Hon. Minister.  When the Hon. Minister announced his budget, on the 22nd of November in the year of our Lord 2018, the Hon. Minister announced that with effect from the 23rd of November, people who had imported vehicles were to pay duty in foreign currency.  On the 23rd November Hon. Speaker, it happened to be the following day after his announcement of the budget. My point is the insensitivity because you have people who had already – I know that the Hon. Minister in the budget mentioned exemptions of those who had already ordered the vehicles.   I am going to talk about those people who had been saving and by the way it has got something to do with a budget, we are talking about prosperity, it is going to impoverish and that is my point.  We are going to impoverish the generality of the people.  I am talking about the budget being antipoor because the majority of the people who import vehicles from Japan are people who are in dire need of transport.  If you travel alongside Samora Machel Avenue from 1700 hours, you will see multitudes and multitudes of people who will be looking for transport and some of them are spending up to 2 to 3 hours.

Even if we adjourn Parliament late like we did yesterday after 1900 hours, I actually drove alongside Samora Machel Avenue and they were hoards and hoards of people who were looking for transport.  If you travel along the Chitungwiza Road, it is the same thing.  So the majority of the people Mr. Speaker who are importing vehicles are importing a Toyota Vitz, Toyota Passo, Nissan March so that they can have a better than walking vehicle which they can use to go home. These are the people whom the Hon. Minister is now punishing.  I know that when he was on interview on Star FM, the Hon. Minister and I am quoting from him ‘hatina kuvatuma kutenga mota idzodzo’, that was his response when he was being interviewed.  That is the height of insensitivity, the height of cruelty because we are dealing with people here Mr. Speaker who want to move from point A to point B.

The bottom line Mr. Speaker is that the Executive has failed to invest in a public comfortable transport system.  If you go to New York today, you will find that there are no cars especially in Manhattan, they are so many people in that city as a result of which parking space is very scarce, and it is actually more expensive in a year to park your vehicle than to actually buy a vehicle.  As a result of that Mr. Speaker, you will find that in New York , the majority of them do not even bother buying cars, they travel on the subway but because it is very comfortable, all you have to do is to buy a map, if you want to go from that point to the other point and so on, you can then network and ensure that you get to your destination.

So people are buying cars not because they love them but they are buying cars because they are a necessity.  My solution Mr. Speaker is very simple, if the Hon. Minister wants to reduce the number of cars which are being imported and brought into the country,  all we have to do is to ensure that we invest in a very good and comfortable public transport system – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear].  If we do that Mr. Speaker, a lot of people do not even bother buying vehicles because they can travel comfortably – [HON. NDUNA: Chitaura kuti how do you do it?] – [AN HON. MEMBER: Ana Nduna, wakafoira maelections iwe.] – I want to say that in the foreword to the Budget Mr. Speaker, on page 3, the Hon. Minister captured sentiments which were expressed by the public generally.  It was just referred to as three critical aspects but then the Hon. Minister does not deal with those aspects.  The first one Mr. Speaker is to decisively deal with fiscal indiscipline that is number one.  It is very obvious Mr. Speaker and it is common cause that they will be a lot of fiscal delinquency on the part of the Government. Mr. Speaker Sir, I have already mentioned the issue of fiscal delinquency.  The issue ofthe Budget deficit, I think it is on page 32 or 33 of the Budget – however, he has not come to Parliament in terms of Section 307 to seek confirmation.  For us to be able to keep Government on its toes, we must have adequate allocation, adequate resources to this august Institution which is responsible for bringing the Executive to account where it is financially delinquent. 

            When we were in Bulawayo Mr. Speaker Sir, the Hon. Minister gave the impression that he was moving in sync with those sentiments.  One would have expected that the modest Parliament Budget was going to be allocated in its entirety.  When we look at what Parliament asked for, I think it was about $150 million and when we look at what was allocated to various Ministries, you would find that this is a pittance.  One would have expected that Parliament, as one of the three Arms of the State, was going to be given adequate resources in order to carry out its functions.  I am looking particularly at oversight, so that all the Committees are adequately resourced and all Hon. Members of Parliament are able to discharge their duties in the manner that they should, in terms of the Constitution but the Hon. Minister has not done that. 

Then we go to Vote No. 2 - when it comes to the Committee of Supply, but I am sure that the Hon. Minister has heard.  I want to go back to the issue of fiscal indiscipline.  Mr. Speaker Sir, in his conclusion, the Hon. Minister talks of some pain being experienced as there is no reform without pain.  With due respect, Mr. Speaker Sir, the Hon. Minister should ensure that the pain is felt by those who have caused the problem.  We are dealing with people, some of whom have been in the Executive for the past thirty-eight years and still want to remain there.  They still want to continue eating. 

We had an incident of my colleague here, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office.  He was heard on social media bragging at his house where there were so many vehicles, 4 x 4s and so on.  Hon. Minister Marapira was bragging that he was going to get another vehicle.  Right now, we have heard reports that the new discovery – we have seen it out.  We do not know where it came from but we had been given the impression that no new vehicles had been acquired.  We have seen several Hon. Ministers driving not the box, fake discovery but the new discovery which is a brand new model.  It means that there is some element of deception.

When it comes to the question of pay Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Minister talks of salary cuts and so on.  The 5 percent salary cut is just a deception because we know that at their level, most of the remuneration is not in the form of the salary, it is in the terms of the packs in terms of the allowance, particularly the travel and subsistence when they go out of the country.  They are always gallivanting around the country searching for mega deals which we will never see.  At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker Sir, they are cushioned against the hardships which the ordinary persons are being asked to pay. 

My proposal is that the Hon. Minister should be specific.  He must tell us what they are going to do.  He must be able, for instance, to say to his principal that it is not a manifestation of austerity when you hire a Swiss plane for $2 million or $3 million for every trip.  At least the former President R. Mugabe would use Air Zimbabwe.  Lastly, Mr. Speaker, it only take a nation to prosperity, it can only takes a nation to impoverishment.  I rest my case.

+HON. MABOYI:  Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution on this motion on the Budget.  I have observed that most Ministries had asked for a certain amount to carry out their Budgets but fortunately, they were allocated less than what they had requested.  As Members of Parliament, we are well aware of the meaning of the term Budget, it does not mean that you will get everything you will have asked for from the fiscus.  I will take a good example on the way we run our homes.  If you have an amount of $20 to spend, you do not expect your child or your husband whom you send for your errands to bring goods worth a thousand dollars because they can only purchase goods of the value of the amount you gave them.

          The Minister has given us a Budget which is an outline of projects he wants to undertake.  The Minister has crafted an excellent budget proposal. It is up to us as members of Parliament to support the implementation. I am advising my fellow members of Parliament that we should go to our constituencies and hold consultative meetings on the budget.  The budget also spells out how the different ministries have been allocated funds. Let us look for ways as 270 members to solve this budget.

          As an individual, I notice that Funds are not adequate and the best way forward is to carefully handle monies collected from parastals such as ZINARA which collects funds from tollgates. Let us fight and shun corruption.  Let us proffer constructive criticism. The starting point as I stated is our constituencies. Minister, please fight corruption, nip it in the bud - exterminate it. When we were voted into power we knew that the country had financial problems so instead of being cry babies, let us look for ways of financing this budget.

       Minister, I am proposing that that we work towards reviving parastatals such as the Cold Storage Commission so that we start exporting beef and earn the much needed elusive foreign currency. Let us revive irrigation schemes so that we embark on horticultural projects which earn the country precious forex.

          We should go to our constituencies during the holiday and bring new ideas instead of being cry babies. Minister you presented the best budget. You need our support for it to succeed.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate.  I rise to add my voice to this Budget debate.

This Budget is claimed to be in United State dollar currency yet in fact it is in RTGS and bond notes, hence it is a third of what it is.  The rebasing of the economy to $20.5 billion RTGS dollars is mischievous as this economy is around US$8.6 billion.

This Budget is not pro-poor but is meant to punish the poor people  of this country who have been bearing the cost of mismanagement of this economy for the past 38 years.  The introduction of the 2% tax is meant to punish the poor rather than the rich. 

The Budget is unrealistic as it does not give the civil servants salary increment for 2019 when inflation is now around 180% and is projected to rise to 205%, given the economic management trajectory under this regime.  The failure to pay bonuses in full to civil servants as per tradition is meant to push them in to poverty, considering the prevailing high inflation rates.  Payment of duty in forex on cars and other selected goods is meant to punish the poor so that the rich-poor divide continues to grow.  The fines that go up to $700 are meant to squeeze the poor, given that the average salary is below $400.  Security services and soldiers are bitter in regard to their remuneration and conditions of service which is paid in bond and RTGs against the rise of prices.  In my Constituency there is a barrack and I mingle with a lot of these people. I am afraid that if we pass this Budget in this format, it will be a recipe for disaster.

The maintenance of the RTGS rate to US dollar rate as 1:1 is meant to benefit the few which is the cartel.  This cartel consists of people that access forex on parallel market.  These are the people that in spite of getting forex at 1:1, they sell the goods at parallel market rates and this is seen in various industries.

Almost 5 billion of the $9.6 billion is domestic debt went to individual pockets that are politically connected and agriculture has been used as a conduit in the past and regrettably in the future as demonstrated by this Budget.  The same crew that benefitted from farm mechanisation also benefitted loans from various banks and they did not pay back the loans.  These were taken over by the fiscus through the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company (ZAMCO).  The same crew also benefitted from command agriculture and presidential input but have failed to pay back.  The same people will also benefit from this Budget.

So far, more than 3.7 billion has been swallowed by these people from mechanisation, ZAMCO and command agriculture.  The Minister should just let people look for their own funds to do farming business like some of us rather than continue pouring funds to these looters under the disguise of supporting agriculture.

Zimbabwe imports wheat and several agricultural products yet we are capable of feeding ourselves.  We have people with huge pieces of land who each year are given public funds for agriculture yet the country continues to pump a lot of foreign currency to import that which we can grow.  If we keep doing the same thing each year and expecting different results, then we are not wise as a Parliament.

          The domestic debt which stands at more than $9 billion was borrowed in USD from pension funds and insurance companies and banks where the poor have contributed.  The Minister proposes to reschedule domestic debt repayment and by so doing, he is putting into jeopardy the institutions that had loaned to Government, especially pension funds and consequently punish the poor.  For as long as we continue with this, we will punish the pensioners who were punished during the dollarisation period or era.  Most of this debt was used to pay politically connected people through ZAMCO, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) quasi fiscal activities and so on.  The punishing of TB holders is in fact a punishment to the majority poor of this country.

          The Minister proposes to direct that all monies retained under ministries be deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund to curb corrupt activities.  While it is true that there are certain funds that were not being managed properly, I think there was need to ensure that only those funds are ordered to close rather than taking a blanket decision.  The Auditor General reports can easily help in that regard.  Some of the funds were created to cure the mischief of centralisation of funds and the bureaucratic nature of departments to receive the funds from Treasury.  There is no doubt that some ministries and departments will suffer in the process because it is those ministries which have abused the funds and so, whose retention funds should be taken to Treasury and not those that have managed their retention funds well.

          The Minister proposes to put a paltry $53 million to compensate some former white farmers and he acknowledges that the monies that are needed are huge.  While I support the need for compensation, I have a problem in that the fiscus is being forced to pay, yet we have beneficiaries who got these farms including improvements.  Why are the beneficiaries not being made to pay something, after all they have benefitted immensely. 

          HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order.  I think the Hon. Member, when you attack the land Reform programme, you attack a national programme which you also benefited from.  Even your family has benefited from.  I think it is important to understand that the land reform was born out of the liberation struggle of this country and as a result, it cannot be reversed, it is irreversible.  In fact, the Hon. Member must apply for a farm from the provincial Minister of Mashonaland West so that he can also benefit from what it is.  I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. MUSHORIWA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon.  Mliswa is missing the point.  I am simply saying Zimbabweans, why should all people suffer and yet some people are continuously benefiting.

It is imperative, Mr. Speaker Sir, that if we are going to stop the mess that we are in, we need to change the direction that we are going through.  We cannot continue doing the same thing and then expect a different result.  Mr. Speaker Sir, the country is set up as it stands right now.  Performance of a Government is judged by what people experience during the course of the day.  If you ask the people of Dzivarasekwa whether things are improving, they will tell you that they are not. 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA):  Order please.  May I remind Hon. Members, I am noting that Hon. Members were given the Blue Book and they decide to be general.  Please, can you quote where you are getting that information so that the Minister can also use your debate to improve the budget, not to generalise.  Thank you.

HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order, Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think it is important for the Members of this august House to appreciate that the land reform was open to anyone to apply.  That must be very clear because we do not want a situation where those who did not apply now try and criticise those who benefited.  The land reform was open to anybody and it is still open to anyone.  So, just like Zimbabwe is open for business, agriculture and land is also open – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – You are allowed to apply.

HON. D. SIBANDA:  You must send him out, Mr. Speaker.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order, Hon. Members.

HON. MADZIMURE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I would like to preface my debate, through you Mr. Speaker, by inviting the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development to my budget outcomes and expectations report back meeting in Kambuzuma on the second week of January. I would want the Minister to attend the meeting to explain the following issues that the he did not adequately respond to using the budget.

Mr. Speaker, on the matter of the monetary policy, the Hon. Minister told this House that the United States dollar and the bond are 1:1.   Mr. Speaker, this is not true and it will never be true.  As a result, the budget that we are debating is actually a fake budget.  Why I am saying so is that you go to even those stores that are listed on the Stock Exchange, you go and ask for the price of an item.  The item has three to four different prices.  It has a price for United States dollars, it has a price for bond notes, it has a price for bond coins, it has a price for ecocash and it has a price for swipe. 

So, how this will affect and make the budget a fake document is as follows, Mr. Speaker.  When we start drawing from the budget at the beginning of January, where you have allocated a vote in what is supposed to be in United States dollars; when you go out there to purchase cement, it will be priced at around 30 bond and United States dollars is $10.  So effectively what it means is that the prices are times two what is in the Blue Book.  So, like what Hon. Mushoriwa has said, three months down the line, the Minister will bring a supplementary budget.

The other thing is, what is going to happen to individuals pensions, those people who have been contributing their pensions from 2009.  We were doing so in hard currency - United States dollars, but if I am to receive any pension today, it will be in RTGs, meaning that the price that I will meet when I go to buy the same provisions, the same basket that I used to fill with around US$30 will now cost me $90.  It would have eroded the individual’s pension.  So the Minister has to respond to that.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Minister started on a very bad note, he did a number of issues - [HON. MEMBERS:  He is not listening to the debate.]With due respect, I think this is why the Minister has a serious problem.  The Hon. Minister does not listen.  The Hon. Minister is still staying in his own world where he was before he came here and that is why he has a problem – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] - 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order please.

HON. NDUNA:  On a point of order.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  May I make a ruling on that one.  Order please.

HON. NDUNA:  He should be cut to size.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Members, may we please reduce the noise.  Most Hon. Members are repeating e

what the Minister has already heard.  Can you please bring new issues so that the Minister will listen to you – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA:  On a point of order Hon. Speaker.  It has been raised that we need to consider this budget in its entire seriousness, but the Hon. Minister is affectionately under the armpits of Hon. Mliswa and not listening to the debate.

HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.  There are two Hon. Mliswa’s here.  Can the Hon. Member clarify which Hon. Mliswa he is referring to?

HON. CHIKWINYA:  I meant that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development is affectionately under the armpits of Hon. Minister Mliswa

HON. MADZIMURE:  Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of new issues that are coming up.

HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order, Mr. Speaker Sir.  I think it is important while it is on a lighter note, he must withdraw that statement.  It is gender sensitive.  On a more serious note, the Hon. Minister is married. Hon. Mliswa is married and I think it is important. Whilst it is on a lighter note, he must withdraw that statement, it is gender sensitive.  I mean that.  On a more serious note Mr. Speaker Sir…

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Mliswa, respect the Chair – [HON. T. MLISWA: On a more serious note Mr. Speaker Sir, the Hon. Minister is married.  Hon. Mliswa is married and I think it is very gender insensitive.  He must withdraw that statement.] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, I will chase you out – [HON. T. MLISWA: That is gender insensitive.] – Hon. Mliswa, please respect the Speaker’s Chair.

HON. MADZIMURE:   Mr. Speaker, I was saying, the Hon. Minister started on a very bad note.  Mr. Speaker Sir, within a month after his appointment, the Minister produced two crucial documents; there was a Vision 2030 where the Hon. Minister is promising this country that by that time, we will be an upper middle income society.  After that, he also produced the Transformational Stabilisation Programme (TSP).  The TSP contains around 380 pages, which means it is a thick document that should have been written over a long period of time, but it was written in less than a month.  There was no consultation at all –

Hon. Mliswa having been shouting at the top of his voice

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order please.  Hon. Temba Mliswa, this is the last warning, I will chase you out, you are disturbing the House.

HON. MADZIMURE: Mr. Speaker, I was saying, whilst it is not bad for a Minister to be a ‘supersonic minister,’ who works with the speed of a supersonic, but whenever you produce a document that you need the nation to adopt, embrace and have a buy-in, you need to consult and the Minister did not do that.  As a result Mr. Speaker, even if you ask the Hon. Members here present what they understand by TSP, very few Hon. Members can respond. Not only that, even though it might appear to be a repetition, the 2% that we are now charged whenever we are transacting – when the Minister introduced the 2%, it was said that, transactions of up to $10 were not going to be affected.

However, because of the pronouncements that happened just before that, the US$ and even the bond itself lost value to the extent that the $10 that we are now talking about is equivalent to about $3, meaning that there is no one who is not affected by the transaction.  This is why people from this side are saying the budget was not pro-poor, actually it has hurt the poor the most.  When we talk of the poor, we talk of my grandmother who is in the rural areas whom I can only send money through Ecocash and she is being charged as well.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the objective of the TSP according to the Hon. Minister is to lay the foundation for attaining the Triple S, which the Hon. Minister would want to call the strong, sustainable and shared growth.  However, when I go through it and tried to contrast it with what is in the Budget to say; are we going to achieve the Triple S, it will not be achieved using the vehicle that the Hon. Minister presented to this House, which is the Budget. In the Hon. Minister’s introduction, he talked about the objectives and priorities from consultations which revolve around the following; the decisively dealing with the fiscal discipline through the use of austerity measures – Mr. Speaker, the biggest problem that we have in as far as this is concerned is that we are concentrating on the 20% which does not make a lot of sense.

          Mr. Speaker, lastly, I would like to deal with the issue of Parliament.  If you look at the Parliament Budget, it does not promote the constitutional democracy that we have.  The Budget does not respect the other arm of Government.  I can take an example where you talk of the researchers in our committees; you sometimes have one researcher serving two to three committees.  You talk of the Committee Clerks serving two to three committees and when a Clerk goes on leave, we have a problem.  When you look at the Budget, is it going to respond to the needs of this Parliament?  The answer Mr. Speaker is no.  Parliament is being left poorer in terms of capacitating Parliament to perform its duties. 

On several occasions, Parliament has failed to secure accommodation for Members of Parliament purely because Parliament cannot pay on time.  Parliament is constrained.  Hon. Members of Parliament are expected to debate in this House after having adequately prepared but very few of them can do so because there is no staff to help Members of Parliament to prepare for their debates.  So, it is important Mr. Speaker for the Hon. Minister to consider the Parliamentary Budget and make sure that the Legislature will not depend on the benevolence of the Executive. 

Lastly, I do not see in the Budget where the Hon. Minister is going to stimulate the creation of employment.  The Budget fails to formalise the informal.  The only way we can create jobs is that, we formalise the economy and I tried to go through it and try to pick issues that can answer the issue of formalisation, there are no incentives to talk about to formalise the economy.  As long as we have an economy that remains so informal, there is no way we are even going to measure some of the performances. It is very difficult to use the informal systems to measure any performance.  So, the Hon. Minister must make sure that employment creation can only be sustained where there are formal structures and businesses to make sure that growth can actually be measured.  I urge the Hon. Minister to make sure that at least he considers the number of the contributions that have come from this side.  Lastly, if you aggregate what Hon. Dube said here in terms of the luke-warm response we are giving to commissions, it shows you that we are not serious and no one will ever take us seriously. So, there will not be takers to assist even our commissions in the performance of their duties.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Mr. Speaker Sir, let me begin by thanking Hon. Members for their contributions, questions and equally, the Chairpersons of various committees for their contributions and questions.  I now would like to respond to the critical questions that were raised.  The first one is around the size of the Budget allocations. I noticed that obviously no one is happy Mr. Speaker because you know what happened when we were in Bulawayo during the consultations with all the Hon. Members in this House, including the Senators in the Upper House. The bids came to a figure that is almost equal to the size of the economy, the whole economy.  So, well over US$18 billion dollars worth of bids, it is quite obvious that no Ministry, no department is going to get what it asked for. By definition, you cannot allocate more than the size of the economy.  You can only allocate within the resource envelope that is the first point. 

          The second point is that I did urge members of this House and Senate that we must change the way we think about the budget. It is a piece of advice because that is how other countries have done it, which is move away from inputs which is how many dollars have been allocated to my department or Ministry.  Move that to output and impact. It is very, very important then that way we can stretch every dollar that we receive and the role of us the Hon. Members is to make sure that every dollar is used properly in our constituencies so we get more impact for every dollar that we allocate and not focus so much on input.

          Moving to the second issue Hon. Speaker, it is on the allocation to the provinces under devolution.  I am very pleased that we were able on this budget to allocate US$310m to the provinces.  I would like to draw the attention of members to the Blue Book, right at the back; we have done some proposals in terms of allocation of US$310m. I urge members of the House to look through that and then try to see how the allocations have been done.  There is a formula that we have used, please check page 404 all the way down to 412, so we used a formula for allocation based on 3 indicators as I indicated in the budget, is based on population size.  Secondly on a poverty index, we have got a poverty map of the whole of Zimbabwe, that is why this budget is pro-poor because it focuses on poverty – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] -     

          The third factor is an index that measures the quantum or percentage of unpaved roads because we are trying to steer the allocation of US$310 towards capital expenditure not consumption expenditure.  We want to be clear about that.  So, there are two levels of allocations Mr. Speaker. The allocation at the provincial level and at the local level is very clear, so you can check your province, check your constituency, you will see.  I will pick one at random on page 411 to make the point.  I will just choose Chiredzi RDC under Masvingo on page 411, you will see that, that allocation which is a capital grant for capital expenditure at US$5.7m, I am rounding off, that is the allocation for that and it is for capital expenditure.  So, we are very clear, in terms of this proposal and I am pleased that we were able to make that allocation at this Budget and share with you how it ought to be distributed according to the formula driven by the three indices.

          Let me proceed Mr. Speaker Sir.  There is a question from the Chair of the Finance and Economic Development Committee, Hon. Mhona which is about the establishing a well resourced cancer hospital or introducing a cancer levy. I respond as follows Mr. Speaker Sir that the Government recognises the critical need to alleviate the plight of cancer patients. In this regard, a cancer unit has already been established and operationalised at Parirenyatwa Hospital and we spend amounts to the tune of US$10m in this regard. The 2019 budget provides for a US$3m in support for cancer programmes whilst other cancer units include a fully fledged cancer hospital will be established as resources become available.

          There is a question about supporting teacher training in local languages especially for Kariba, Binga and Beitbridge among other places.  Mr. Speaker, I respond to say that resources have been allocated under the teacher capacity development programme and that will really take care of teacher training in local languages as well. There is a question about the introduction of an education, equalisation fund to fund the rural education and development.  Once again, the education Budget is actually the largest in terms of allocation.  So we have really put a lot of resources towards this very important sector and some of the allocations for the US$310m for devolution, some of that certainly will go towards dealing with the education sector.   Also, we are very clear about investing in infrastructure for the education sector particularly primary education.  There is a document Mr. Speaker Sir, which is not a Parliamentary document in terms of it being required to be tabled here but I am very happy to share with all the Hon. Members here present and those in the Upper House and it is a detailed infrastructure investment plan for 2019, everything that we invest in infrastructure is in this book.

          I will just turn to page 73 of this book to just show you what we are doing for the education sector.  We are going to be investing US$32.7m in building new schools at primary and secondary level. I will just pick a region at random for instance in Mashonaland East we are going to spend US$650 000 on upgrading and construction of Chitepo Secondary School, just one example.  In Mashonaland East, US$1m to be spend on Wedza Primary, so I am just saying that it is very important to realise that we have a plan for this Ministry and we are doing quite a bit of work in making sure that all the capital development investment is done and we will improve the quality of education in the rural areas.

          There is a question about ring-fencing the 2% tax to fund the provision of social services and social safety nets, that is exactly what we are going to do.  The issue about the 2% tax is not about Zimbabweans being unwilling to pay it, they have embraced it [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – The feeling that it has not been embraced is misleading and is false.  Zimbabweans have embraced it, in fact each time I speak to ordinary Zimbabweans, they say Minister the issue is not the 2%, the issue is prices.  Prices are high and that is the issue, fertiliser irikudhura, inhlanyelo iyadula that is the issue not the 2% tax.  We have ring-fenced it and we will be making sure that the people of Zimbabwe feel this tax. So, what we are going to be doing Mr. Speaker Sir, out of the revenue from 2 percent tax, we will extract $310 million and use it to finance the devolution needs.  We have taken money from the people; we are giving it back to the people, through the devolution exercise.  The change out of 2 percent, the remainder will be used for funding education, health services and closing potholes so that people really feel where this money is going.  We need more ambulances, so you will see us motivating for the purchase of more ambulances and supplying more schools desks to make sure that the infrastructure is upgraded.  It is going to go to social services and to fund devolution.  

The Committee is also concerned about the about the likely challenges arising from implementing the US dollar Budget, the devalued bond, the RTGS payment system which imply huge cost on programme implementation.  The Committee therefore wonders how the Budget is going to account for revenue and expenditure where on part is in forex and the other is RTGS, one cannot discount the potential for illegalities and rent - seeking behaviour.  Mr. Speaker Sir, in his Monetary Policy Statement, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has advised that the official rate for the US$ compared to RTGS and bond notes is one to one.  This is the official position.  We are aware of the various premiums Mr. Speaker Sir, that are applied by individuals out there in terms of the rate at which they trade.  To be clear Mr. Speaker Sir, this other rate is what we call in economics a premium.  We have a fixed exchange rate regime and what is happening is that there is a premium, which people use out there.  Let us be clear, it is a premium absolutely, and this you will find in any economics textbook.

The ordinary Zimbabweans are acutely aware of what happened in 2008 and 2009 at the time of hyper inflation, where in trying to correct that issue, we had to remove zeros on the monies that were used then and introduced US$ and savings were lost.  We are acutely aware as Government that we need to protect all savings and we need to protect the balance sheet of banks and companies.  Therefore, it is important to maintain parity while we are aware that there are premiums being used all over the place. 

The Budget deficit of $1.6 billion in 2019 from $2.8 billion from 2018 is ambitious, given the prevailing macroeconomic environment and tight fiscal position.   The Budget deficit of $1.6 billion amounts to 5 percent of GDP.  That is the target, we are determined as Government, as Treasury to make sure that we move from a double-digit level of the order of 11% plus right now in terms of 2018 budget deficit, down to 5 percent.  We have interrogated every figure and I am confident that this figure, the $1.6 is achievable. 

To achieve that, as I mentioned in this Budget and there is one Hon. Member who also emphasised that, although they thought they were speaking against me, but they were speaking for me, that we are very serious about fiscal discipline.  The Budget is about austerity but for future prosperity, absolutely.  The fiscal management involves revenue expansion which is what the two percent tax was all about.  ZIMRA is going to chase up those who have not been remitting taxes to make sure that they remit.

Mr. Speaker Sir, we are as a Government, owed about $3.5 billion by entities and corporates that have not remitted taxes to ZIMRA.  We are waiting to collect that money, we are doing everything we can to collect that money and that is one side, the two percent tax plus all the other collections we are doing.  We are also making sure that we curtail expenditure, because we need to do both.  First of all, His Excellency is leading from the front on this occasion making sure that all of us, starting with himself, we cut our salaries by 5 percent to make sure that we lead from the front, ensuring that there is prosperity all the way down to the CEOs of parastatals. 

Allowances are lower than basic salaries.  For the record, I repeat, allowances are lower than basic salaries.  This is also the case in industry that official allowances are lower than basic salaries.  Therefore, it is incorrect and misleading to say in this House, people are getting more in allowance and other things than in basic salaries.  It is not correct.  We are making sure that we contain expenditure and we have expanded revenue.  I am confident that the budget deficit pronounced is not only financeable but also achievable.  I have already mentioned that  this is one part of the twin deficit issue Mr. Speaker Sir.  There is a fiscal deficit and there is a current account deficit which we have dealt with using one piece of policy which is the introduction of payment of duty in the currency in which the luxury good such as a car was procured.  I will come to that in full.

The other question came from Hon. Mpofu who chairs the Portfolio Committee and Foreign Affairs and International Trade together with Hon. E. Ncube of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  The point was about the need for the Government to provide for clearance of arrears for Government programmes, in particular diplomatic missions, BEAM, utilities and service providers and salaries.  I respond as follows Mr. Speaker Sir; with regards to arrears related to service providers, Treasury has ring fenced $78 million for liquidation of arrears to service providers whilst instituting measures to contain further accumulation of arrears.  For arrears under foreign missions and BEAM, the Budget has allocated $45 million.  I would like to inform the august House that I have already provided $30 million this month towards reduction of arrears to BEAM.  The amount owing on the BEAM programme was $92 million and with that $30 million commitment and payment, the amount owing will drop to $62 million.  Therefore, we are already taking action. 

The next question from the two Hon. Members is that various Portfolios raised concern on the inadequate provision of resources for Government programmes.  I have already said that we are in a tight fiscal space, we are doing everything we can to manage the budget deficit down.  No Government programme, department or Ministry got all that it desired, because the size of the bids was as big as big as the economy is clearly undoable.  Therefore, I urge all Government departments and Ministries to focus on output and impact, rather than input.  From Hon. J. Sithole and from the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education and Hon. Dinar, the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, the Hon. Members raised concern in respect of freezing of post in critical services.  The freezing of posts is part of the wage bill management measures. However, consideration is given Committee on Health and Child Care.  The Hon. Members raised concern in respect of freezing of posts in critical services.  The freezing of posts is part of the wage bill management measures.

However, consideration is given to filling in of critical posts, particularly for the health and education sector.  We are always accommodative in this regard because they are critical - but we want to make sure that there is proper management of the wage bill and we institute the right levels of austerity in this regard.

Hon. Dinar raised the question about the inadequate provision of funds for Lupane hospital construction.  The provision of $10 million for the construction of Lupane hospital is in line with the agreed programme of works which takes into account the capacity of the contractor and the current supply constrains.  It should be noted that $5 million in cash has already been provided towards this project in 2018 and the contractor is still to raise certificates against this amount. 

Let me now turn to Hon. Biti who raised concerns regarding Government’s proposal to hold bi-elections once every two years as this violates the provisions of both the Electoral Act and the Constitution.  I respond as follows; I am aware of the constitutional provision and the Electoral Act.  The proposal was made on the understanding that we will seek the amendment of the Act and the Constitution to incorporate the provision of the proposal.  Again, this is a mere cost containment measure.  It is not a desire to avert the Constitution but once again if so required, we can request these kinds of amendments to be made.

Hon. Biti also sought clarification on the figure for domestic debt in the Blue Book and the Budget Statement.  I want to be clear that in my National Budget Statement on page 33, I indicated that the total debt stock is $17.28 billion at the end of September 2018.  This comprises of external debt stock of $7.66 billion and domestic debt stock of $9.62 billion.  On the other hand, in the 2019 proposed budget estimates which is the Blue Book, what is shown are public debt charges and repayments.  This is debt service due in 2019 only.  Total debt service estimates for 2019 which should show in the Blue Book amounts to $6.86 billion, of which external debt service including arrears should be $4.68 billion.  The domestic debt service should be $2.18 billion.  I am clarifying some of the errors that have been pointed out to make sure that it is clear. 

Let me emphasise that the main difference in the figures provided in the National Budget statement and the Blue Book is that the former shows a total budget debt stock position, whereas the latter shows debt service projections for the 2019 fiscal Budget.  One is a stock and the other is a floor. So should Hon. Members want us to be clear about the debt stock, please refer to my Budget Statement.  For clarity on the debt stock, be it domestic or external, please refer to my Budget Statement and any corrections in the Blue Book will be made because clearly, there were errors.

I now hasten to add that as Government, we are aware of the importance of watching the level of debt that this country continues to incur and we want to make sure that we continuously improve our debt sustainability analysis and that is what we are doing, particularly...

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Minister.  Hon. Biti wants to raise a point of order.

HON. BITI:  Hon. Speaker, my point of order relates to the figures of both domestic debt and external sovereign debt in the Blue Book.  The Blue Book is the total amalgamation of the two sets of debts.  It is not as the Minister says – an indication of those payments that they intend to make in 2019.

If you go to page 403, you will see a figure of the total domestic debt $4 358 852 000.  This figure should be accurate as at the time the Blue Book was printed, that is at the end of September 2018.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Biti please address the Chair.

HON. BITI:  If you go to page 393 – again, you will see a figure of a total foreign debt of $4 871 479 000 which is in contradiction to what is stated at page 33 of his statement where he acknowledged that the debt is about $17.9 billion.  So there is a contradiction between the statement and the Blue Book.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  I do not think that the Hon. Member understood me well. I said that there are errors in the Blue Book – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Members, Hon. Members!  I have not recognised you Hon. Biti. 

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  The actual level of the stock of debt is $17.28 billion as of September 2018.  I also said that the level of external debt is US$7.66 billion. The level of domestic debt is $9.62 billion and what I am explaining is that there is a difference between the stock of debt which is called the stock and then a floor.  That is the difference that I was explaining. 

I repeat, there is an error in the Blue Book and what I am explaining is the correct position in terms of the stock of debt book

– [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Can the Minister be heard in silence Hon. Members.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to hasten to add that we continue to strengthen our debt sustainability analysis framework to make sure that both our domestic debt and foreign debt is kept within sustainable limits.  What is critical is to make sure that the gap between the nominal interest rates and the gross rate of the economy is kept at the right levels where growth catches with the level of interest rates because that is how you accumulate debt. 

The other way you try to deal with runaway debt is by making sure that you have a primary budget surplus.  I am happy to report that in the month of October, we had a primary surplus of $29 million and therefore we are slowly shipping away at this huge debt level to make sure that it is contained and it does not run away. 

On the external debt, we continue to be engaged and we are engaging our international partners to make sure that we are able to deal with our arrears with the African Development Bank and the World Bank, but also eventually to deal with the Paris Club debt with our bilateral partners and we are well on our way to making sure that we stick to our targets.

On the domestic debt Mr. Speaker Sir, again we are making sure that we lower the cost of servicing our debt domestically by lengthening or seeking to lengthen the duration of the debt that is due to mature in 2019 going forward.

There was a question from Hon. Hamauswa who raised concern on the provision of water to urban Harare City Council and other urban authorities. The critical importance of ensuring adequate water supply for both urban and rural communities has been considered under the 2019 Budget with an allocation of US$101 million to be directed towards water supply covering urban authorities including the City of Harare. As with most of other programmes, we would have provided more were it not for the fiscal constraints in our budget. We have also provided more resources within the allocation of US$310 million.

Let me turn to a question from Hon. Biti regarding currency reform. I would like to remind Hon. Biti that the equilibrium value of a currency, what is called the equilibrium exchange rate is determined by several factors. The first factor is the budget deficit. So, controlling the budget deficit is key. The second factor is money supply and money supply responds to the fiscal expenditure and if the budget deficit is rising that will cause money supply to rise. The third factor is the interest rates levels between the Zimbabwe economy and neighbouring economies such as South Africa. The fourth factor is inflation differentials across borders. The last factor has to do with the size of the current account.

I must say in this budget therefore, if you consider those to be fundamentals of a currency which they are, just by dealing with fiscal discipline and the current account deficit, we are making sure that we strengthen the fundamentals of our monetary sector. It is therefore not surprising Mr. Speaker Sir, that in the market in which some of the people operate, the so-called power market, those rates have stabilised. The premium has stabilised. The reason is because we have closed the step in the fiscus in making sure that money is not being – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – So, what you find …

HON. T. MLISWA: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Is the Minister confirming that there is a parallel market because you are confirming there is a parallel market and yet you are telling us the US$ and bond are the same – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.].

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: When I started presenting, I did indicate that there is a premium to our fixed exchange rate of one to one. Naturally, this premium does cause inflation – [HON. T. MLISWA: You are making price distortions. Minister, you are the culprit for distortions.] – and therefore, to deal with it we need to make sure that we deal with the fundamentals for making sure that our monetary sector remains strong. That is what I was trying to explain which came out very clearly as I did – [HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker, the emperor is naked.] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

From Hon. Mpofu who raised concern about the rehabilitation of diplomatic missions. …

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Chinotimba, what is your point of order?

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: My point of order is that we have been debating here on the budget, so – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

*THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, let us listen to each other. There have been a lot of interjections but can we give the Hon. Minister time to respond to your questions please. No more interjections and points of order.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Hon. A. Mpofu from the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade raised concern on the rehabilitation of diplomatic missions’ properties. The budget has provided $5, 7 million for the construction and rehabilitation of diplomatic missions’ properties covering London, New York, Dodoma, Preston and Windsor. It should however be noted that availing these resources depends on us providing the foreign currency element that is required because these are foreign currency reliance – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – and we have to increase exports. 

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members, I might end up sending somebody out right away.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Hon. Members raised concern over the timeous disbursement of resources. On this one Mr. Speaker Sir, I respond as follows; that you will see much improved speed in terms of disbursement of resources going forward. It is therefore not surprising that we were able to pay even something as unimportant to others as bonuses for civil servants in November timeously and this proves that we act timeously on our obligations Mr. Speaker.

A question was raised on the proposed allocation to Parliament in terms of the budget. I have already indicated that the allocation is really within the envelope that we can afford. It is not true that the allocation was not increased. It was increased. Mr. Speaker Sir, you recall that in 2018 the budget for Parliament was $80 million. In 2019, it is $101 million, therefore we have an increase of 25% - [AN HON. MEMBER: Against an inflation of 31%.] – We have to reduce that budget deficit from 11% to 5%; it is key and we have budgetary constraints naturally but nevertheless, we increased the Parliament budget by 25% Mr. Speaker Sir.

Then a question from Hon. E. Ncube from the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Services as follows; the Government should work towards reducing inflation so as to preserve the values that were allocated. If inflation is not checked it will affect all the programmes as funds will become inadequate which will leave the poor and the other vulnerable groups the worst affected. Indeed, we are working very hard to make sure that we contain inflation.

As I have said, the act of reducing the budget deficit and reducing the printing of money and excess liquidity in the system or economy goes a long way to dealing with inflation. So, all the fiscal discipline measures that we are putting in place are designed to deal with inflation among other things. You can be sure that we are working hard on this and I disagree that inflation is of the order of the high figures that are being suggested around. That is not correct. Inflation for purposes of policy making should be based on a typical basket of goods that includes obviously food, fuel, et cetera. There must be a basket upon which inflation figures are calculated.

          On inflation Mr. Speaker Sir, let me be clear.  The monthly inflation figure for November is 9.2%.  It dropped from 16.44% in October down to 9.2% – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – So on a monthly basis, inflation is falling and that is what I am accepting.  I want to be clearer, the figure of 31% that is being used to make arguments is a technicality; it is index technicality because what you are doing is, you are comparing the level of index at the same time last year in November to the level of the index this year; from one year to the other year.  That is exactly how you get to 31%.  So at the end of the day you are moving from the index of a low base to the higher level of the index now but on a monthly basis inflation is falling.  For the record Mr. Speaker, the November figure is 9.2% – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          There was a question from Hon. Biti which says the budget should have a bigger say on investment, in gross capital formation and capital produce, however it focuses so much on recurrent expenditure and it becomes anti-development and this is indicative of macro-economic framework which is found on pages 35, 36 and 38 of the Budget Statement.  The Budget proposed a recurrent expenditure of $6 billion out of $8.2 billion; capital expenditure of $2.1 billion and a budget deficit of $1.56 billion.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the budget allocation towards the development budget has significantly improved from the level of $485.9 million in 2018 to $1.1 billion – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – This amount will be complemented by development partners to the tune of $99 million.  The off-budget support is $969 million and public entities also will inject additional resources of $390 million; therefore bring the entire capital expenditure budget to $2.6 billion.  Hon. Members will also note that the $310 million inter-governmental fiscal transfers under devolution were also target provision of basic infrastructure at the local level - why, because one of the key indices for allocation of $310 million is the quality of infrastructure around transport infrastructure.

          There is a question from Hon. Nduna, the Statutory Instrument should ring fence 10% of all minerals for all the minerals that are used by National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).  Treasury will be facilitating typical discussions among the Ministries of Mines and Mining Development, Transport and Infrastructure as well as the mining houses, just to agree on a way forward on this. We are happy to facilitate discussions or to initiate.

          There is a question from Hon. Mguni that we should intensify the policies to recover money from externalisation so that those who banked the money outside the country come back with that money and bank in the nostro accounts.  So, dealing with the illicit outflows, I respond that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is continuously working on this matter and I can confirm that some monies have already been recovered.

          There is a question from Hon. Tsunga that the 2019 Budget is not dealing with unemployment.  I submit that the budget is dealing with unemployment issues, using the tax rebate system, making sure that those who are importing raw materials for local manufacturing in the fertilizer sector, furniture and others, there is a whole list of incentives in the budget which go a long way to protecting jobs and creating new jobs.  It is also not surprising that the data from NSSA is showing that employment levels have increased over the last few years.

          There is a question raised by Hon. Mliswa from the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and this is to do with fiscal incentives for the establishment of a refinery; that we offer fiscal incentives to Zimplats to ensure setting up of a refinery for base metals and precious stones.  The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development together with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should come up with the financial implications of the fiscal incentives and the projected value of the refinery in order to evaluate the benefits of extending value addition and beneficiation to a private company.  The envisaged incentives should be articulated also taking into account the existing incentives for platinum producers operating under the special mining lease regime where corporate tax is payable at a reduced rate of 15% against the general rate of 25%.

          Mining companies are also entitled to an indefinite carry-over of losses. In view of the capital intensive nature of operations, mining houses also enjoy other incentives such as the duty free importation of capital equipment materials that are used in mining.  The proposal to extend fiscal incentives of establishment of the base metal and precious stones refinery is noted.  Treasury will consult with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development on the matter so as to assess the needs of investors.  Furthermore, Treasury stands ready to engage investors wishing to establish the base metal and precious metal refinery on the fiscal concessions that they require in order to fulfill this objective. 

          There is another question that the new tax regime for the mining sector should not compromise returns that are due to the mining communities.  This is noted and this is something that we always strive to ensure in our fiscal regime for the mining sector that communities within the mining areas are not prejudiced. 

Then from Hon. Dinar of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, there is a question around the intermediated monetary transfer tax and that the 2019 National Budget exempts claims settlement made by medical aid societies to medical service providers from being charged the 2% IMT tax. The Committee commends the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for this, but calls for exemption to be extended throughout the supply chain including the medical aid contributions. This will enhance the affordability of health care to the general populace.

          I will respond as follows Mr. Speaker Sir. Treasury appreciates the importance of a healthy workforce in economic development, hence the crucial role of health insurance schemes. It will be ideal to exempt the IMTT tax on medical aid contributions made by the general public in order to encourage the uptake of medical insurance. However, given the amounts contributed by the majority of people, the IMTT would not have significant impact on medical aid contributions.

          Furthermore, Treasury received a lot of requests for exemptions on the IMTT, which if it were granted would defeat the revenue raising goal of IMTT, and for netting in the informal sector but also the formal sector which has not been  meeting its tax obligations as evidenced by the arrears of US$3.5 billion which I mentioned before.

          I move on to the issue of the standard scale of fines. A third aspect of illegality Hon. Speaker pertains to the suggestion in the revenue measures by the Minister that the maximum police fines should be US$700.00. The Minister of Finance does not interfere. We have got separation of powers and the Executive does not interfere with the functions of magistrates and judges on sentencing people and determining the measures of punishment and hope the Minister can revisit this. This was the nature of the question Mr. Speaker Sir.

          I respond as follows, that paragraph 4(a) of Section 280 of standard scale of fines and amendment thereof of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, states as follows; 4(a) “after consultation with the Minister responsible for Justice, the Minister responsible for Finance may not more  frequently than once in every fortnight, by notice in a Statutory Instrument, amend the existing monetary amounts specified in the second column of the first schedule in the manner specified in subsection 4(b) to take into account the decline in the purchasing power of the Zimbabwe dollar in relation to the United States dollar”.

          In view of the above, the review of the standard scale of fines was within the provisions of the law and mandate of the Ministers responsible for Justice and Finance, hence should not be interpreted as interference with the magistrates and judges on sentencing people and in determining the measures of punishment. It is also worth noting that as outlined in the Bill, the proposed review of the penalty regime has now been restricted to review of the monetary amounts without altering the levels of the various offences.

          Let me move on to the payment of duty in foreign currency which was another question. It was said that asking members of public to pay duty in US$ when we are all earning local currency in the form of Bonds and RTGs is wrong. People do not appreciate and understand your tax regime. The requirement for payment of customs duty is based on the ability to pay principle. In order to import, an individual requires foreign currency. Therefore, the source of foreign currency to import can also be the source of foreign currency required to settle the duty component.

          This brings out the element of ability to pay. It is also worth noting that this proposed measure is a demand management mechanism which is aimed at reducing the propensity to import using scarce foreign currency resources. I must add that Zimbabwe has about 1.7 million cars and in the last 12 months, we have had an increase of about 700 000 cars in one year alone. This is a huge increase and it is increasing the demand for fuel among other things, and it is quite clear that this is also putting pressure on the supply of foreign currency.

          Let me now turn to the issue of the excise duty on fuel. It was noted that we have lived as Zimbabweans through a period of hyper-inflation in 2007/2008. Therefore, the proposed duty which is being implemented already, the excise duty on fuel is wrong because it is inflationary. The proposed review is not expected to have a significant impact on the level of prices, since international oil prices had been declining, hence it provides leverage against inflationary pressures in the first place. The current pump price bears testimony to this fact with current retail prices lower than those that were obtaining prior to the increase in fuel excise. So, Mr. Speaker Sir, the excise duties have not increased fuel prices. On the contrary, fuel prices have been dropping. 

          As I conclude, we are importing more than a thousand vehicles per month at a cost of more than US$4 million. It was stated and I agree with this figure. It is my thinking therefore that we should have a geographical location which is called a special economic zone, bonded warehouse where we call in those that are selling to our unsuspecting innocent citizens and the mushikashikas and all the vehicles, the ex-japs and so forth. We request that space be given to them in Zimbabwe for them to deposit 10% of their takings which is US$4 million and we revitalise our foreign reserves. This was the contribution on the question and I am trying to read it verbatim.

          I think this is doable and I ask therefore that this be done to all vehicles so that we avoid sparkling criminal abuse in Zimbabwe. All second hand vehicles should be registered at the ports of entry. So, this is about setting aside space for these vehicles to be imported and then accessed from that space. The idea was that this would enable us to make sure there is rationality in that sector and we can earn valuable foreign currency.

          I respond as follows that the current legislation already allows for importation of new and pre-owned motor vehicles under bond. This implies that motor vehicles for resale can be imported into a bonded warehouse without payment of duty. The duty component will only be payable upon removal of the motor vehicle out of bond. Mr. Speaker Sir, this concludes the bulk of my responses to the questions raised. I am now trying to see from what was raised today so that I could pick out and respond to.   

          There was a comment from Hon. Maboyi and I appreciate her appreciation of this good and effective budget. She raised a very important issue on CSC that she would like to see progress in the resuscitation of this very important parastatal. I hasten to add that there is some progress already in terms of the privatisation of this entity through a concession, a BOT arrangement but she would like to see faster progress and I agree with her that we need progress so that we can improve job creation and make sure that the CSC can support the agricultural sector.

          There was a question from Hon. Gonese on the 2% tax and I have dealt with that.  The lack of ideology Thatcherite versus Chinese, this not about ideology I want to be clear that it is about budgeting. Whether we are in a Thatcherite regime or in a Chinese regime, we have to budget and the tenets are clear.  You need to live within your means and that is what fiscal discipline means regardless of ideology.  So, there is just a misconception about the application of ideology in this regard.  It is not about ideology but living within your means – period.

          On that the budget is being anti pro-poor, again this is incorrect.  The budget is pro-poor and I have already indicated the use poverty indices for allocating the provisions to support decentralisation.  The size of the allocation for the health sector and for the education sectors for both higher and also the primary and secondary bear testimony to the fact that the budget is pro-poor.  I will continue to support the BEAM programme which bears testimony that it is pro-poor. 

In this budget Mr. Speaker Sir, we also make sure that those earning below $350 are exempt from income tax and we raised this from $300 and that is pro-poor Mr. Speaker Sir.  

There was an Hon. Member who raised a question that we should fight corruption.  We are fighting corruption and we have said that it is one of the pillars of Vision 2030 and the TSP will continue to fight corruption and any form of rant seeking. 

There is an Hon. Member who commended the allocation to war veterans and devolution of course.  Again, I appreciate this as the war veterans are an important part of the history of this country and their contribution is noted to continue to support them and their families is vitally important for the social fabric and cohesion of this society. 

On the SMEs sector not being well supported and that it is not being informalised, let me be clear.  What we need to do with the SMEs and the formal sector is to support them with the infrastructure.  In the Budget, we were very clear that infrastructure should be put in place and it is being put in place.  It is not only just Government that is doing it but also the corporate sector is doing the same.  Here I would like to note for example what Old Mutual is doing in complementing the efforts of Government to make sure that this sector is well supported.  After all, it is supporting the bulk of the population.

Also in terms of tax and importation rebates, we have extended this in the Budget to include the SMEs sector.  I should also note that the continued support through the establishment of the Empower Bank and the Youth Bank goes a long way in providing financial resources to the SME sector.  I have argued, including in this Budget, that we are going to do more by establishing venture funds to support the SME sector so as to deal with the issue of collateral requirements when they seek loans from banks; rather we switch to equity investment or equity funding as opposed to debt financing for which collateral is almost always required Mr. Speaker Sir. 

From Hon. Dr. Labode on the issue of adhering to the Abuja 15% ratio in terms of allocation, we will strive to meet this objective over time through a multi-year budgeting approach.  We cannot do it in one year – certainly not but again we are quite pleased with the amount that we have allocated to the health sector and it is one of the highest budget allocations which in fact is an improvement from the previous year.  On the issue of drugs, we are doing everything we can to support NatPharm – which has been announced by the Minister of Health and Child Care how we are supporting NatPharm so that we can break the monopoly that is resulting in all these high prices on drugs being sold through means that I will not care to describe which are hurting our people.  But, we are doing everything we can Hon. Labode to make sure that the health budget is supported. 

Also, we thank our partners for coming to support us on the cholera issues around the health sector.  In fact, just two days ago, we received a grant of $1 million from the African Development Bank which will be administered by the United Nations.  So, we are pleased with this support but also we thank the corporate sector for its contributions towards fighting cholera and helping us build the required infrastructure to deal with cleanliness.  After all, this pandemic is as a result of the absence of cleanliness.  I also commend the President for initiating the day for cleaning the whole country and that will engender the spirit of cleanliness and hopefully reduce the probability of things like cholera occurring. 

There were comments on that we should demonitise the bond note.  I want to be clear that it costs money – US dollars to demonitise the bond note.  There is a figure that we are aware of in terms of what it will cost, so, that figure will have to be sourced from elsewhere to demonitise it.  Even if you want to replace it with the Rand, which is a suggestion that I had, it will cost you US dollars to change the bond note into the Rand.  I want to be very clear about that.  It is a costly exercise Mr. Speaker Sir and it would need to be budgeted for. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I thank you, I have covered the ground in terms of the input and the questions that were raised by Hon. Members.  I take this opportunity to thank all the Hon. Members but also to thank those who appreciate the budget and finally to thank the various Committee Chairpersons for their input comments and submissions.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. 

I therefore move Mr. Speaker that the motion be adopted.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. 

FIRST READING

FINANCE (NO. 3) BILL [H. B. 13, 2018]

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE) presented the Finance (No. 3) Bill [H. B. 13, 2018].

Bill read the first time.

Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

On the motion of the MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the House adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.

     

 

 

 

 

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