Mthuli Ncube says corruption is his biggest headache as he presents 2020 budget


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Corruption and the slow pace of dealing with it is among the biggest problems facing Zimbabwe.

This is according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, who said the scourge was hampering the country in its attempt to steer the economy in a positive trajectory.

He was making the statement during the tabling of the government’s $63.6bn (about US$3.97bn) budget for the 2020 year.

He singled out the explosive auditor-general’s report, which resulted in arrests and investigation of senior government officials and employees for abusing their office to procure cars, for unprocedural awarding of tenders to cronies and siphoning of public funds that have not been accounted for.

He raised fears that the level of corruption would result in investors shunning Zimbabwe which is desperate for foreign direct investment.

“Based on the auditor-general’s report, government is losing resources through corrupt activities. In addition, corruption in some parastatals and local authorities has compromised some desired development outcomes.

“There is a risk that some development partners may withhold funding for critical programmes and projects. Delays in taking remedial action against violations identified in audit reports have the unintended effects of propagating corrupt tendencies in the public service,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s biggest forex earner is mining, particularly gold and platinum. As such, Ncube said he would like to see government making changes to the Gold Trade Act as well as improving service delivery in gold mining.

“Mineral exports remain the major sources of foreign currency, especially gold. However, leakages have been on the rise, depriving the country of foreign currency earnings. Government is, therefore, reviewing and tightening the Gold Trade Act, and capacitating the Gold Mobilisation Unit,” he said.

With corruption being his biggest headache, he allocated resources to the establishment of a centralised internal audit unit, coming up with a national anti-corruption strategy. He also suggested that a law to protect whistle-blowers should be formulated.

The 2020 budget is a climbdown from the previous year, when the minister attempted to curb public spending. This time about, he’s of the view that his budget is “pro-people”.

Below are some of the key highlights:

  • A tax-free bonus has been increased from $1 000 to $5 000 as of November 1, 2019. This week government workers start receiving their year-end bonuses
  • A tax free salary has been increased to $2000 — up from $700. Most civil servants earn bellow $2000.
  • $500m has been allocated to public transport in at attempt to revive the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company
  • $200m for sanitary wear for schoolgirls, Grade 4 to form six will get free sanitary wear.
  • Defence and War Veterans allocated $3.11bn.
  • Home Affairs $2.8bn
  • Prisons and Correctional Services, $709m.
  • $1bn allocated to food deficit support
  • Grain subsidies to be removed in January, millers free to import maize
  • However, former Finance Minister, MDC Alliance legislator Tendai Biti, said the budget is a reflection of hyperinflation. He called it an “illusion” and “under-achievable”.

Initially, Ncube had projected the budget to be about $28bn during his outreach with ministers last month.-Timeslive

(43 VIEWS)

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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