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Zimbabweans Await 2010 National Budget


Zimbabwe's finance minister, on Wednesday, is to unveil the country's first budget since the formation of the unity government. Our correspondent asked some Zimbabweans in Harare what they are hoping to hear in the minister's speech on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe's finance minister, on Wednesday, is to unveil the country's first budget since the formation of the unity government. Our correspondent asked some Zimbabweans in Harare what they are hoping to hear in the minister's speech on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation the budget is about consolidating economic progress made since the national unity government came to power in February.

"We are now moving from stabilization, which was basically stopping the hemorrhage, ensuring that we are stable and ensuring that we deal with structural issues that are essential for development and transformation of this society," said Tendai Biti.

In drafting the budget he will reveal Wednesday, the minister called for recommendations from the private sector.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries recommended the government should reduce corporate tax, which is more than 30 percent. Lorraine Chikanya is Confederation's chief economist.

"For us as representatives of industry we are looking at the issue of industry's viability," said Lorraine Chikanya. "Most people have said its being hampered by our high tax rates, especially in line with corporate tax. What we are proposing is measures to say cut corporate tax to 25 percent."

She said a simplified tax collection system would encourage compliance.

The weekly newspaper The Independent reports the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce asked for the government to reduce its foreign diplomatic missions and trips abroad by government officials.

On the street there is consensus Zimbabwe's economy has improved since the unity government came to power. Adele Chikosi said social services should be a top priority for Minister Biti.

"We are hoping for better [service] delivery, refuse collection, the roads improvements, also in education [and] health care, especially in the rural areas," said Adele Chikosi.

Chikosi called for transparency and accountability from the government.

Self-employed entrepreneur Joyce Murindagomo says the government has to go beyond the budget.

"We need to know the plan for at least five years from now," said Joyce Murindagomo. "We need to know the goals and the vision of the nation. We want to know how we are going to survive today or from tomorrow."

Expectations are high, but with Zimbabwe's economy still recovering from the battering it took during the past several years Biti has a tough job on his hands.

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