The other problem I noted in this Budget Review is the shocking level of deficit. Mr. Speaker Sir, the total deficit out-turn for 2016 as the Hon. Minister pronounced is $1.4 billion against a projected budget deficit of $150 million. It is really a shocking variance for me between expenditure and revenue. So what happened is that in 2016, a big fiscal hole was curved to the tune of $1.4 billion and we have to cover that budgetary deficit because it is a problem as it compromises service delivery.
The other problem I noted from the budget is that we expected the Hon. Minister to dwell a little more on the cash shortages or the current liquidity challenges that is still giving serious problems to our people. Mr. Speaker Sir, if you go out in the streets and banks, people are still queuing for their money as they cannot access their cash. I would have hoped for the Hon. Minister to have gone deeper to unveil the measures that Government is putting in place in order to ease the cash shortages. Yes, we appreciate that the use of plastic money has been increasing but there are certain basic expenditures that still require cash. Our ordinary people will still need cash to board kombis, buy tomatoes and vegetables in the locations. There are still basic expenses that require cash and I would have hoped that the Hon. Minister would tackle the issue of cash or liquidity challenges because this economy is stuck in a deflation. Consumers have no spending power, firms are not spending and Government is not spending on productive expenditure hence the economy remains stuck in deflation. Therefore, demand is very low and the issue of cash has to be resolved because without addressing the cash problem, you are not creating the necessary demand and stimulus for the economy to respond.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the other worrying problem from our point of view is that of corruption. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Why did the Hon. Minister avoid this subject yet it is the most prevalent topic in this country? Corruption, corruption and corruption because corruption is a leak to the fiscus or represents a leakage in the public resources – it was vital for the Hon. Minister to announce measures that the Government is putting in place to tackle this scourge called corruption. I hope that in the 2017/18 Budget, he will be able to address the issue of corruption.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also note that the Hon. Minister is pleased by the fact that the mining sector is on a rebound and is projecting a 5.1% output increase in the mining sector. Fair and fine, gold is doing well because we are artisanal miners, coal, and diamonds and so on but the problem is, we are still using the old extractive mining model where we are still extracting raw minerals and exporting them as they are. In the process, we are exporting jobs and losing revenue in the value chain. It is high time we start seeing gold refineries being constructed in this country. Processors to process our minerals, coal, diamonds and other resources have to be established. Mining is the future of the country and if we do not address it, we will continue to lose the potential value that this sector contributes to foreign currency generation, employment creation and so on and so forth. I think going forward, it is important to invest in a clear mining turnaround strategy.
The African Union (AU) has what they call, ‘An African mining vision’, which is basically a strategy on how mining should benefit the citizens of the country. This country is not getting anything from mining. The Hon. Minister says the whole of last year mining contributed only 2.2% of revenue. This is sad because if you are talking about growth, you locate it in mining yet it contributed only 2.2% of revenue – that should not be the case. We need to follow through the AU mining vision and try to see how mining can be used to achieve development and social economic transformation.
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