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Tsvangirai Faction Of Zimbabwe's MDC Denounces Fiscal Plan

The supplementary budget unveiled this week by Zimbabwean Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi came in for some harsh criticism this week from the faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which called it a "hotch-potch of contradictory and self-defeating policy tools.

Mumbengegwi told parliament this week that the government would need more than Z$37 trillion dollars (US$145 million at the parallel market rate) to run the country until the end of the year. Of this, he said Z$735 billion would go to finance presidential and parliamentary elections due in march 2008, while Z$500 billion would cover upgrades to airports in Harare and Victoria Falls with South Africa's 2010 World Cup in view.

Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Tsvangirai MDC faction said in a statement put out Friday that the fact "that the supplementary budget can exceed the original budget presented in December 2006 by 800% betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the nuts and bolts of economics. But even more importantly, it exposes the fact that the regime has no failing control over this failing economy (and) they do not care."

Biti said Mumbengegwi's fiscal plan had little connection with the National Economic Development Priority Program launched by the administration of President Robert Mugabe in March 2006. "Sadly, the supplementary budget is not anchored on this. Instead, it is a hotch-potch of contradictory and self-defeating policy tools."

He said a "staggering" Z$12.662 trillion or a third of the supplementary budget was dedicated to the office of the president, which encompasses the "notorious Central Intelligence Organization," the Defense Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry.

The supplementary budget would increase the nation's stock of domestic debt to Z$16 trillion from Z$8.1 trillion, Biti stated, while at the same time in order to dispose of the necessary funds the government would be obliged to aggressively print money.

He charged that in presenting the supplementary budget without disclosing estimated revenues, the government had violated Section 103 of the Zimbabwean Constitution requiring full disclosure of revenues and expenditures in an appropriations bill.

Biti expanded on his critique of the supplementary budget in an interview with reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...