Editorial Comment: Mid-Term fiscal policy review vital

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THE mid-term fiscal policy is undoubtedly the most awaited statement by all economic stakeholders but Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has not yet given the dates on the presentation. Minister Chinamasa on Tuesday said that he was not sure when he will make the economic announcement. He said it might not be necessary to give it. However, by its nature, the mid-term policy reaffirms or redirects policy trajectory although he is not compelled by law to deliver it.

In giving the mid-term review, the Minister will be expected to announce how the economy would have performed in six months in terms of revenue and real sector performance, new or revised measures to stimulate the economy among others.

Business, be it investment or boardroom decisions are largely influenced by such policy statements. Even in challenging times, the timely review of the policy will provide confidence, the most critical element this economy needs.

As such, delaying the announcement of such a key policy will obviously work against economic revival efforts. For instance, the policy review statement has to either review upwards or downwards economic growth targets while at the same time providing the direction of where the economy is heading. Interestingly, there is a huge interest among Zimbabweans on which route the economy is taking in light of growing signs of hardships.

People are eager to know how well or badly the economy is performing. It kills speculation and helps economic planners, manufacturers, exporters and the general public to plan for the future.

Equally put, speculation around economic performance can only but hurt the economy especially the efforts being invested by the Government. Its importance can never be overemphasised. The failure or delay to announce the mid-term policy therefore will keep the nation guessing on the policy trajectory and creates unnecessary speculative tendencies.

Failure to acknowledge the challenges the economy is faced with will only give impetus to the rumours that may even threaten security. This will fuel speculation and serve to give detractors impetus to attack.

In as much as we understand that fiscal authorities are quite busy mobilising resources for civil servants, efforts which are plausible, it is equally important to give the nation information to kill the far spreading rumours of economic demise. President Mugabe last week pointed that the economy was on a rebound.

We therefore expect the Finance Minister to support the assertions from the Head of State and Government. Even in his 2014, National Budget Statement, Minister Chinamasa acknowledged that speculation can only be motivated by intentions to undermine confidence in the economy.

Some of the speculation he mentioned had to do with diamond revenue collection. He said this speculation came about due to little information about diamond sales and production, which has not been helpful to the reputation of the industry as a whole.

There have been a number of achievements recorded under the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset which must be encapsulated in the Mid-Term policy. Without doubt new projects have also been registered and some measures have been put in place to harness economic benefits. These should be clearly articulated in the statement where their contribution to economic development should be accounted for.

We know that work has started on the expansion of Kariba South Power Station, the Afreximbank’s commitment towards US$100 million for the resuscitation of the interbank facility, the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill, efforts to engage the international community and work on creating framework to promote PPPs.

There are also plans to amend the Banking Act and the nation needs to know how these impact on economic growth targets. These are the important areas that Minister Chinamasa’s mid-term policy should address.

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