Legislators and economic analysts have welcomed the $927,3 billion 2022 national budget presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday, saying it is people-centred and designed to address socio-economic challenges in communities.
Commenting after Prof Ncube’s presentation in the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, Dr Matthew Nyashanu (Zanu PF) said the Budget had responded to the national aspirations.
“The question before us is whether the budget is pro-poor budget as advocated by citizens during 2022 national budget consultations.
“To a very large extent, I think the budget addressed this question by paying attention to social protection through BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Module) in education, in health services, in agriculture and in social development.
“Resources are naturally scarce against competing needs. I think we are on course as a nation,” said Dr Nyashanu who is also Buhera Central MP.
Matabeleland North proportional representative MP and chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care Dr Ruth Labode welcomed the introduction of a levy on tobacco that will be used to create a fund for non-communicable diseases like cancer.
“The establishment of the fund for NCDs is most welcome but the minister should have made it clear where it’s going to be housed just like what happened with the Aids Levy.
“With the Aids levy, we know its deducted by Zimra and goes directly to the National Aids Council, so if we have any questions we know where to go,” she said.
Dr Labode said while the health budget of $117,7 billion was 14,9 percent of the total budget the bulk of the money was meant for the fight against Covid-19, leaving little for dealing with other diseases.
Economic analyst Mr Persistence Gwanyanya welcomed the payment of this year’s civil servants’ bonuses and contractors in US dollars saying it was an acknowledgement of realities in the economy.
“We have also seen a number of measures being adopted to alleviate the burden on the ordinary persons,” he said.
Mr Gwanyanya said the setting aside of $10 billion for provision of social safety nets was a welcome development and a realisation that there were some sections of society that were not benefiting from the growth being experienced in the economy.
Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the 2022 National Budget was encouraging in that it did not leave anyone behind as it focused on inclusive growth.
This, he said, was achieved by taking care of social side of the economy. He said the International Monetary Fund initiated economic reforms, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme of the 1990s failed because they were exclusive and left out some sections of society.
“ESAP failed because it did not have a human face. Social programmes are an integral part of the economy because if you develop one group and undermine another it leads to problems or conflict.
“The minister acknowledged this, that’s why he tried to include everyone in the budget through social programmes,” he said.
Chief Charumbira said the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were transforming lives because they were inclusive of everyone.
“If you do not leave anyone, everyone will be committed to your programme,” said Chief Charumbira.
Midlands Senator Mr Morgan Komichi (MDC-T) said the budget would help to stimulate economic growth.
“I am more impressed by the budget allocation on health which is consistent with the Abuja Declaration,” said Sen Komichi.
He said the budget would give impetus to various infrastructure projects Government was carrying out such as road construction which he said were self-evident.
Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire backed the budget which he said is anchored on growth.
“I think it is a good budget which is taking the country on a developmental trajectory, built on the successes of the past year which has seen massive infrastructure developments and a comprehensive response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The past two years have been challenging because of the disruptions mainly caused by Covid-19 pandemic, and of course the sanctions,” said Deputy Minister Machakaire.
“The sterling leadership in this country not only managed to keep Zimbabwe afloat but registered a economic stability and economic recovery in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged the global economy.”
Beitbridge Senator, Cde Tambudzani Mohadi (Zanu PF) said she was happy with what was announced but implored implementation at every stage.
“All is well. We are happy with the budget announced. What we want is to see it being implemented,” said Senator Mohadi.
Mashonaland West Proportional Representative MP, Goodluck Kwaramba (Zanu PF), was particularly happy with money allotted to the health sector.
“We are happy they have prioritised the health sector. We are also happy that more money is being channelled towards sanitary wear.
“Public service will get more money for helping the education of the disadvantaged so as women, we are happy,” said Cde Kwaramba.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said: “The budget was excellent. As a ministry, we got a good chunk of the budget.
“We are very happy, what is left now is to use the money to develop, and to ensure that all our programmes are successful. We need to make sure we fulfil our promises. We have a lot of work to do in 2022.”