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2018 Pre-Budget Seminar Bulawayo By The Speaker of the National Assembly


KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY

THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

 

 

HONOURABLE ADVOCATE J. F. MUDENDA

 

 

 

AT THE

2018 PRE-BUDGET SEMINAR

 

7-11 November 2018

Holiday Inn,

Bulawayo

 

The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. T. Gezi;

The Deputy President of the Senate, Hon. Lt. General (Rtd) M. R. Nyambuya;

The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs-Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Hon. J. Ncube;

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Professor Mthuli Ncube;

Honourable Ministers here present;

The President of the Council of Chiefs, Hon. Chief F. Charumbira, and his Deputy Hon. Chief Khumalo and all other Honourable Chiefs;

Honourable Committee Chairpersons and Members of Parliament here present;

The Clerk of Parliament, Mr. K. M. Chokuda and Staff of Parliament;

All Permanent Secretaries and Senior Government Officials here present;

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Dr. J. P. Mangundya;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Let me from the outset welcome you all to this key inaugural Pre-Budget Seminar for the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe. The seminar, being held for the second time in the “City of Kings and Queens”, has come at the most opportune time, particularly in the aftermath of the recent launch of the National Transitional Stabilisation Programme [2018-2020]. The stabilisation programme is meant to put Zimbabwe on a launch pad towards sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth. The pathway has specific roles which Parliament has to play to bring about the much needed economic growth. The seminar which is running under the theme “ Enhancing efforts towards stabilising the macro-economic environment for inclusive socio-economic development, ” i s relevant and an imperative for Parliament to input into the National Budget which will be skewed towards the effective implementation of the National Transitional Stabilisation Programme. As such, I wish to highlight with a sense of pride that following the dawn of the new dispensation, profound changes have evolved over the past twelve months. The distance traversed, though figuratively short, has epoch-defining landmarks inclusive of peaceful democratic space conducive in leap frogging our economic development. I have no doubt that Zimbabwe is in a compelling mode of transformational economic change, trail blazing towards a secure future which is epitomised by improved livelihoods for our people who for decades have borne the brunt of economic stagnation and regression. The economy is beginning to slowly but progressively recover notwithstanding the fiscal tremors that the economy is experiencing of late. What is needed is fortitude, perseverance and a political will to weather the current economy glitches. As observed by the late great statesman of Africa and former President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Cde Nelson Mandela in 1999 , “The long walk is not yet over. The prize of a better life has yet to be won”. The long walk to economic freedom is arduous and yet it should be accomplished without fail. To that an extent, Parliament must firmly put this country on a road to economic recovery through passing a Budget that is anthropocentric and pro-poor in character. The economic trajectory of the 2019 National Budget must be predicated on the primacy to fulfill the will of the people from whom the authority to govern is derived as aptly enunciated in section 3(2)(f) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe . Accordingly, the Budget must lay accent on the people’s hankering for a better life through job creation and quality service delivery. That reality should always resonate at the back of our minds as we craft the 2019 Budget. In this regard, Parliament, as the sovereign representative institution of the people of Zimbabwe, must not abdicate its sacred role of passing a robust Budget that is in accord with the national people’s developmental aspirations.

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a disciple of constitutionalism, I wish to emphatically state the vision of section 13 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides as follows:-

“( 1) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must endeavour to facilitate rapid and equitable development, and in particular must take measures to—

(a) promote private initiative and self-reliance;

(b) foster agricultural, commercial, industrial, technological and scientific development ;

(c) foster the development of industrial and commercial enterprises in order to empower Zimbabwean citizens; and

(d) bring about balanced development of the different areas of Zimbabwe , in particular a proper balance in the development of rural and urban areas.”

The operative words in the above constitutional provision are “rapid and equitable development” in all sectors of our economy. For that to be achievable, we need to grow the national Budgetary cake through vigorous and assertive efforts in Domestic Resource Mobilisation. That can be attained by embracing value addition and beneficiation of our mineral resources and agricultural products. Why export raw minerals such as gold, diamonds and chrome, for example? Processed minerals can create value accruals six to ten times more of the value of unprocessed minerals! We export raw tobacco at an annual value of plus or minus $800m. Studies have shown that if the same quantity of tobacco is value added and beneficiated, the country would realise no less than $6 billion, much more than our consistently $4 billion annual Budget! That is why I am convinced that a diligent Domestic Resource Mobilisation thrust can enable Zimbabwe to craft a $10 billion annual national Budget. This would make it possible for Government employment costs to come down from the current 97% of the erstwhile approved Budget to between 30% and 35%. Furthermore, Domestic Resource Mobilisation will make it possible for devolution of power and socio-economic programmes to Provinces to make economic sense to the people of Zimbabwe. That constitutional 5% of the national Budget that must devolve to each Province will not be a mirage. In that way we can indeed realise rapid, equitable and balanced development in Zimbabwe. To further bolster Domestic Resource Mobilisation, Parliament must ginger the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to urgently reform the matrix of the taxation regime on similar lines adopted by Singapore and Rwanda. There is need to rapidly move towards digital taxation based on virtual codification of our tax basket. That economic trajectory will guarantee Zimbabwe to attain an upper middle income economy by 2030. Accordingly, this Pre-Budget Seminar provides us with an opportunity that must be used to put the country back on a launch pad to economic vibrancy. Millions of our people look up to us for strategic direction. Such trust should and must not be betrayed by a perfunctory approach by Parliament in designing the 2019 national Budget.

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is an imperative that this Pre-Budget seminar maintains its forte as a best practice in the region and beyond on how Parliament and the Executive can create seamless synergies that promote convergence of development priorities which must anchor our national Budget. The seminar has to emerge as a forum where Parliament and Line Ministries, particularly the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development ought to engage in brutal truthfulness in crafting a solid Budget geared to serving the national economic interests of the people of Zimbabwe. Principally, this is an opportunity for all Members of Parliament, through their Committee Chairpersons, to dissect all the nuances of the 2019 Budget in order to enhance inclusivity and ownership of the process and thereby give legitimacy to the Budget Assumptions and Proposals by Treasury, if agreed to by the people’s representatives. Viewed in that context, this Seminar specifically seeks to achieve the following objectives:-

1. To review the macro-economic performance of the current Budget as a point of departure to the 2019 Budget process;

2. To involve Members of Parliament in the determination of a National Budget formulation process and its content thereof;

3. To engage line Ministries in determining national economic priorities for the ensuing National Budget; and

4. To facilitate and enhance Parliament’s consultation with the Ministry of Finance and other line Ministries on how to fund the Budget deficit through Domestic Resource Mobilisation thereby reducing the Fiscal Deficit by cutting down ostensibly domestic borrowing.

 

 

 

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen;

From the feedback received from Portfolio Committees, it has emerged that the seminar is pivotal in enhancing Monetary and Fiscal Policy Oversight, particularly the pre-legislative process of analysing the Budget and national finances. Effective governance systems require policy makers to consult all interested and affected parties in the development of national policies that have a marked footprint on the economy and democratic governance. Thus, the Pre-Budget Seminar ought to be an innovative and creative mechanism where Parliament must excel in demonstrating its constitutional representative, oversight and legislative roles during the Budget processes. As such, it is fundamental that Parliament and the Executive must reach consensus on the broad Budget framework, in particular, the revenue and expenditure proposals for the 2019 Budget. This is an imperative in that it will enable Parliament to exercise its constitutional tripartite roles of representation, oversight and legislation. Although I have implored for consensus between Parliament and the Executive, I have not advocated for naked consensus that compromises constructive criticism unwittingly. Our Committees, through the Chairpersons, should address the big elephant in the room. We need proffered solutions to our burning Budgetary questions. Besides embarking on Domestic Resource Mobilisation as a way to curtail the Fiscal Deficit, Committees should come up with other practical mechanisms to contain the Budget Deficit. Committees should interrogate ways and means to harness the high employment costs which have been gobling the bulk of our erstwhile annual Budgets. How about putting up measures to control the ballooning domestic and external debt of $16,9 billion and $5,6 billion respectively? Furthermore, Committees should stimulate debate on how the Budget can be used as a tool for the industrialisation of our economy in order to create jobs and thereby increase the revenue base.

It is, therefore, axiomatic that as we deliberate during this seminar, we must proffer solutions on how to grow our revenue, how to grow our resource cake. We are not here to mourn but to carve out a national Budget through the sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas. We are not here to condemn but to strengthen our Budgetary processes. Neither are we here to praise and glorify but to give constructive criticism. Let our collective wisdom enhance our capacity to find solutions to our Budgetary challenges. Hence what I expect to hear from Hon Members are proposed solutions, solutions, solutions and nothing else. As has been the practice, it is my hope that the new Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Ncube, will have a closed session with all Chairpersons to finally consult them soon after this Pre-Budget Seminar before he pens off the numericals attendant to the 2019 Budget. This will ensure that Parliament’s Budgetary input is wholly captured without prejudice.

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lest we forget. The sovereignty of our Parliament demands that Parliament be allocated a reasonable Budget vote which it should manage itself so that it can transact its constitutional mandate without material challenges. After all, section 325(1)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe peremptorily provides that “The Government must ensure that adequate funds are provided to Parliament, to enable it and its committees to meet whenever necessary” . Parliament, through the various Portfolio and Thematic Committees should be able to perform its sacred tripartite roles of representation, oversight and legislation to the highest degree of competence. A well resourced Parliament is a dignified institution. In the same vein, there is an urgent need for the Government to prioritise the construction of the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden in order to accommodate the huge demand for office space by Members and Staff of Parliament. The status quo where Members stampede for seats, particularly in the National Assembly, is a serious infraction of their right to human dignity as Honourable Members. This is a shame as it detracts the decorum of the institution of Parliament. I, therefore, call for the relevant government departments involved to burn the midnight candle and ensure that there is speedy progress in the construction of a new Parliament of Zimbabwe. This stance can only be realized if Members of Parliament desist from allowing the 2019 Budget to pass through instead of passing it after some incisive debate.

Honorable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen;

In conclusion, allow me to take this opportunity to profoundly thank the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for wholly funding this seminar. As a country, we are taking charge of our destiny through this and other allied gestures. I sincerely hope you will all invest your energies into the core business of this inaugural Pre-Budget seminar of the Ninth Parliament. I wish you constructive and fruitful deliberations during this crucially important seminar.

It is now my singular honour and privilege to declare this 2019 Pre-Budget seminar open.

GOD BLESS THE NINTH PARLIAMENT!

GOD BLESS ZIMBABWE!

I THANK YOU!

TINOTENDA!

SIYABONGA!

TWALUMBA!

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