Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Thursday presented a $4 billion national budget projecting an economic growth of 6.4 percent fueled by expected improved performance in the agriculture and mining sectors.
The two sectors are expected to grow by 9 and 11.4 percent.
Chinamasa said 70 percent the budget, which is far short of the $8 billion bids submitted by government ministries, will go towards salaries leaving little resources for capital projects.
Chinamasa said the economy is facing socio-economic challenges, among them high consumption, liquidity constraints, limited foreign direct investment, food insecurity and lack of clarity on the indigenisation law.
The minister spelt out numerous measures aimed at boosting confidence in the economy. He said this includes the continued use of multiple currencies.
He said banks need to improve governance issues and to improve liquidity. The ministry, he said, is introducing a $100 million interbank program with help from the Afriexim Bank.
Chinamasa noted that the government is taking over the central bank debt and will capitalize it to ensure that it plays its role as lender of the last resort.
Though saying the indigenisation law was affecting investment, Chinamasa said the piece of legislation is here to stay and urged private mining companies such as Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa who have not complied to abide by the law.
Chinamasa said due to lack of transparency in diamond revenues, President Robert Mugabe has tasked him and the mines minister to investigate the mining and marketing of the controversial Chiadzwa diamonds.
He revealed that he may come back to parliament with a supplementary budget depending on the outcome of Zimbabwe’s diamond sales in Antwerp, Belgium, this week.
He outlined various measures to boost the manufacturing sector saying the country is importing more than it is exporting.
Chinamasa said government is committed to awarding civil servants poverty datum line-aligned salaries but added that this would be done gradually.
Apart from salaries government would also provide accommodation and other perks for its works.
For perspective reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries former president Callisto Jokonya and Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Godfrey Kanyenze.
Kanyenze said the minister in presenting his budget was candid in the challenges Zimbabwe faces, but could have presented concrete solutions.