|Editorial Comment: Biti’s Mid-Term Policy Statement a big yawn|
|Friday, 20 July 2012 00:00|
As was largely expected, the Mid-Term Policy Statement presented by Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Wednesday was a damp squib: nothing for civil servants, nothing for agriculture, but instead
increased duty for imported flour and fuel.
On the exports front, while there was a significant growth of 45 percent over the past six months to US$1,6 billion these were overwhelmingly cancelled out with our import bill of US$2,6 billion.
Naturally this is a very emotive issue which will most certainly touch the lives of the country’s largest block of employees that at one point threatened to embark on a nationwide strike to press for the improvement of their working conditions.
It is actually more worrying that in his admission, Minister Biti said Government was faced with the risk of failing to pay the workers’ monthly salaries.
For as long as the country remains under the illegal sanctions, there will be very little room to manoeuvre and we will continue operating under a cash budget. This calls for creative ways to remain afloat and one way is to mobilise all the productive forces to exploit our given resources be it in agriculture or mining.
Many downstream industries will definitely wake up once production from the farms is raised to the desired levels. Instead of merely focusing on the manufacturing sector that requires vast sums to resuscitate, the starting point should be production on the land and this does not require the huge sums required to recapitalise industry.
We are basically done with the agrarian reforms and the challenge we have now is to turn this into an agricultural revolution that would effectively silence the critics of this transforming initiative with results from the land.
However, this year’s funding for wheat farmers leaves a lot to be desired and this will come to haunt Minister Biti as he will have to look for money to import wheat, a product our farmers could have produced if they had received the desired support.
We cannot run away from the fact that our economy is agro-based and therefore all hope for recovery should be pinned on agriculture. And that means Minister Biti should rise above party politics and give more financial support to farmers.
There is a need to build on the positives, though. The fact that the country has managed to remain on course with inflation targets, the vast mineral resources, the immense human capital and the will power to achieve should drive us in the right direction.
of our own and faced with old and dilapidated infrastructure that urgently requires replacement.
This is all a result of the devastating Western-backed sanctions, but we have no doubt that Zimbabweans will turn the corner if they all put their shoulders to the wheel.
The demands are many and the way forward demands that we remain focused.