PRE-BUDGET SEMINAR OFFICIAL OPENING – 09 NOVEMBER 2017

Good morning Zimbabwe and entire universe, welcome to Parliament’s live blog. Ms T. L. Manyemba and Mr A. Nyamuramba will bring you a coverage of the day’s proceedings from the Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls.

 

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The following picture collage shows the events that unfolded during the first day of the Pre – Budget Seminar.

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The following picture collage shows the events that unfolded during the first day of the Pre – Budget Seminar.

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In conclusion the Minister informed Hon Members that with regards to the (Constituency Development Fund) CDF, individual members of Parliament may take note that treasury has fulfilled its obligation by setting aside the requisite amount and the ball is now in the court of Parliament to establish the necessary disbursement and accounting mechanisms.

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The Minister proposed that the 2018 Budget will focus on the following priorities;
– preparations for the 2017/18 agricultural season,
– infrastructure rehabilitation and development;
– completion of most government unfinished projects;
– social services delivery in the areas of health, education and social protection as well as;
– the 2018 general election.

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In 2018, Revenues are projected at US$4.0 billion comprising of the following; tax revenue, US$3.763 billion and non tax Revenue US$237million.

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The projected GDP growth is premised on among other things the following assumptions; normal rainfall patterns, scaled up funding for Agriculture, improvements in commodity prices, reliable supply of utilities mainly, electricity and water.

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Budget disbursements towards Recurrent Expenditure for the period January to September 2017 amounted to US$2.97 billion. On the contrary expenditures under the Development Budget under performed by US$54.1 million during the same period.

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The improvement in GDP growth translated into higher revenue collections, which were US$2.812 billion between January to September.

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With imports estimated at US$4 billion, the trade deficit narrowed to US$1.5 billion, from US$2 billion recorded in the same period of 2016.

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In 2017 our growth projection is 3.7 percent. Exports for the periods January to September were also on the increase and stood at US$2.6 billion against US$1.8 billion of 2016, which translates into a 44 percent increase.

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Hon. Members will recall that the economy was projected to grow by 1.7percent in the 2017 budget presented on 8 December 2016.

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The 2018 National Budget draws guidance from the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation (ZIM-ASSET) as was succinctly by His Excellency, the President’s Ten Point Plan in April 2016.

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Here are the highlights from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Ignatius M. C. Chombo.

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Thank you for following the Official Opening of the Pre-Budget Seminar. Until next time goodbye.

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Thereafter, the Hon. Speaker declared the seminar officially opened.

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As I conclude, allow me to reiterate my passionate plea to all participants to actively engage and participate in this seminar as we reflect on how the country can strengthen domestic resource mobilisation strategy to ensure that Zimbabweans attain transformative prosperity. How refreshing it can be if we come up with at least a $10 billion Budget for 2018 with a zero Budget deficit made possible through native resource mobilisation.

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It is my fervent hope that in crafting the 2018 National Budget, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will again take on board most of the constructive ideas and recommendations drawn from the people of Zimbabwe through the public engagement of Parliamentary Committees as they be presented today.

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Allow me to express Parliament’s gratitude for the budgetary support to its activities by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development during this current financial year. Members of Parliament have thus expressed concern, at the perceived treatment of Parliament as a poorer cousin among the three organs of the State.

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Smuggling remains a challenge in the country with ZNCC estimating a loss of US$1,5 billion annually in potential revenue through foregone duty and value-added tax. The World Bank estimates that tax flights from developing countries are several times higher than aggregate inflows from official development assistance.

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Additionally, the proposed Budget should indicate how our country can maximise earnings from the abundant chrome reserves in and around the Midlands Province, which when properly extracted and marketed can generate approximately US$3 billion annually.

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For how long shall we continue treating small scale producers who are raking in more that 50% of gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers as criminals. What legal supportive measures can we give to the sector if we are to exceed the 25 tonne gold target we have set for ourselves in 2017?

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For example, a vibrant ZISCO STEEL can guarantee efficient and sufficient steel production necessary for the upscaling of our foundry industries and other downstream manufacturing entities throughout the country.

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The 2018 Budget should endeavour to plug in the loopholes so that more State Owned Enterprises operate viably. Parliament must make some concrete input in that regard.

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State Enterprises and parastatals reform in one area which can address both revenue generation on the supply side and expenditure slashing on the demand side simultaneously, thus killing two birds with one stone.

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The following questions need to be asked;
– where is the one stop investment centre;
– where is the Minerals Exploration Bill; and
– our sovereign wealth fund.

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Parliament has to exercise intense oversight in order to ensure that the proposed Special Economic Zones are not white elephants but a sound bedrock for local resource mobilisation emanating from accelerated investment therein.

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It is my expectation that committee presentations will be based on native resource mobilisation. This should guarantee the narrowing of the budget deficit to 4percent of GDP in 2018.

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As the late great African author Chinua Achebe rightly stated, “The outsider cannot weep louder than the bereaved.

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Parliament working very closely with the executive, should come up with strategic policy and legal framework paradigm shifts attractive to foreign direct investors, albeit not ignoring domestic investments.

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The presentations that were received brought to the fore the delinquencies of misplaced lending, narrow composition of the exports, the large quantities tied up in RTGs balances and securities dwindling foreign assets and the high cost of doing business in Zimbabwe.

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It is hoped that the presentations that would be received over the next three days from the committees will have domestic resource mobilisation and utilisation underpinnings and speak to the issues raised at the pre-budget briefing seminar.

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The 2018 Budget presents an opportunity for a prudent and targeted response to the well documented socio-economic challenges we have faced during that implementation process while at the same time acknowledging the successes achieved.

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2018 fiscal year will be under immense spotlight from various stakeholders because it is not only an election year but because it is the final year in the implementation of the Zim-Asset.

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Principally, this Pre-Budget seminar must address among other things the following key areas namely, a review of the 2017 Budget implementation, outcomes and macro-economic performance is our unavoidable point of departure. In other words, did the 2017 perform to expectation? If not, why?
– Constructive and interactive engagement with line Ministries in determining national priorities for the 2018 Budget should be premised on the input Parliament has received from stakeholders and the general public; and recommending domestic resource mobilisation strategies and utilisation patterns which ought to spur the revival of our consolidated economic development that is transformative of the livelihoods of Zimbabweans next year and beyond.

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theme can be consummated if Parliament and the Executive share unfettered developmental
ideas which cement a common vision extrapolated upon pluralistic extractive
economic and political institutions. History has recorded that from the 13th
Century English Magna Carta right up to the industrial revolution of countries
such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and Malaysia, Parliaments have
played a crucial role in providing the necessary legislation for that
accelerated development. No National Budget can achieve its intended economic
development goals if it is not premised on progressive legislation which
promotes the EASE OF DOING BUSINESS in a country.

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The theme for this year’s seminar is,“Consolidating economic development and transformation through domestic resource mobilisation and utilisation”.

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The following are the highlights from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda’s keynote address.

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Welcome remarks were made by Mr Mugoriya on behalf of the Minister of State for Provincial , Matebeleland North Province, Hon Thokozile A. Mathuthu.

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Our sincere apologies. We are unable to give you the live blog of the Pre-budget Seminar due to circumstances beyond our control. Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted.

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The following picture collage shows the arrival of delegates to the seminar.

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Our sincere apologies for bringing you the updates late due to the loss of network connectivity.