HARARE-The 2024 national budget is not pro-poor and it entrenches inequalities through tax regimes and insufficient allocation of funds to key government institutions, says the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube presented a ZWL58.2 trillion 2024 national budget last week which drew mixed reactions from economists and the general populace.
In a statement released recently, ZIMCODD said the 2024 national budget is devoid of sound solutions to challenges affecting citizens.
“The 2024 NB (National Budget) is not in sync with the reality on the ground, it does not strive to address the challenges being experienced by the citizens. The tax regimes introduced by the government are not pro-people, they entrench inequality and deliberately foster social and economic injustice,” reads the ZIMCODD statement.
ZIMCODD decried allocation of insufficient funds to spur growth in the agriculture, mining, transport, infrastructure and utilities sectors.
“Zimbabwe’s ambition to attain food sovereignty remains wanting with the government failing to adequately fund the agriculture sector and insulate the sector against climate change.
“The 2024 NB does not optimally enhance value chains despite the word appearing eleven times in the budget. No concrete action was taken to break the monopoly in agriculture (tobacco, cotton, banana, sugar cane etc) and mining. Thus, small-scale farmers and artisanal miners remain relegated in the value chain.
“The 2024 NB has set aside ZWL 8.1 trillion (Energy Z$20.5 billion, Transport Z$744 billion, Water and sanitation Z$608.3, Housing Z$1 trillion, ICT Z$140.2 billion, Education Z$393.3 billion, Health Z$2.1 trillion , Social services Z$9.5 billion and Agriculture Z$307 billion). An allocation that is too meagre to redress the transport, infrastructure and utilities challenges being experienced in Zimbabwe,” further reads the statement.
A raft of tax proposals is also anticipated to have multiplier negative effects on the poor.
“The significant jump in the 2024 budget ceiling means that the Treasury will have to find new revenue-enhancing measures. Unfortunately, while increasing existing tax heads, the NBS (National Budget Speech) has further proposed additional taxes which will significantly deteriorate the welfare of economic agents, particularly the poor majority.
“For instance, the proposed increase in toll fees and fuel levy will have a negative bearing on the cost of doing business and public transportation costs.”
ZIMCODD, however, lauded some of the proposed 2024 budget allocations, describing it as sign of the government’s commitment to international benchmarks.
“It is highly commendable that some of the proposed 2024 budget allocations have shown improved willingness by the government to commit to international benchmarks.”
A 3.5 % economic growth is projected in 2024 down from the 5.5 % projected in 2023 due to normal-to-below normal rainfall season, slowdown in global economic growth amid geo-political tensions and declining international commodity prices.