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Zimbabwe FM Biti's Proposed US$4 Billion 2012 Budget Well Received

  • Gibbs Dube

United Nations Children’s Fund Representative Peter Salama said Finance Minister Tendai Biti was to be commended for supporting social protection measures in his US$4 billion budget for 2012

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s US$4 billion 2012 budget has been well received by stakeholders in the health, education and other sectors.

There was also general approval among civil servants given that 63 percent of the budget has been allocated to their salaries - though critics of this budget component said the government must more aggressively eliminate so-called ghost workers.

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni held a news conference to say that because Biti tried to please everyone the budget is not likely to be an effective fiscal framework.

The Mavambo Kusile Dawn party chief said Biti did not clearly indicate how he intends to keep the economy growing, or how he will service mounting international debt.

Public Service Minister Lucia Matibenga said her ministry will engage workers to discuss the minister’s budget proposals. “As the minister clearly stipulates in the budget that we should strengthen social dialogue, I think nothing will be impossible if we are to use the existing framework for salary negotiations and related issues,” Matibenga said.

United Nations Children’s Fund Representative Peter Salama said the finance minister was to be commended for supporting social protection measures in his budget.

Joram Chikwadze, Bulawayo chairman of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, praised Biti for allocating US$20 million to fund student loans. “We hope that many students will benefit from this facility,” Chikwadze said.

Biti said he is concerned about foreign travel by President Robert Mugabe and others in senior government posts, which excessively drains public resources. He noted that from January to September 2011 such travel consumed US$45.5 million.

Biti has proposed to set up a US$20 million jobs fund for unemployed people who have business proposals but lack credit. “The fund will ensure training in entrepreneurial skills which will enable beneficiaries to participate in creating jobs,” he said.

He has also proposed to allocate US$44.5 million to the Youth Development Fund and US$6 million to the National Indigenization and Economic Fund.