In addition, for some four years now, we have pointed out that if you look at the customs revenue from our border posts, we are collecting less than 5% of our import and export trade in the form of customs duties. Mr. Speaker that is a ridiculous figure, and it points to massive leakages at the border posts on a scale which simply staggers the imagination. Last year, we imported US$1, 4 billion worth of motor vehicles. If you take the customs duty on that alone, it exceeds $600 million, more than double the total customs revenue on all trade. This suggests to me Mr. Speaker that we should be able to push our border revenue from US$384 million a year, to something approaching a billion, without affecting any other sectors of the Zimbabwean economy.
Such an exercise would boost our domestic manufacturing industry very substantially. It would boost our agricultural industry because importers would be required to pay the full import duties on such imports. By not paying attention to these elements, we have a catastrophe on our hands in terms of the fiscal situation. The Minister did his best to put a brave face on this, but there is no doubt in my mind that what we have got now is simply not sustainable, even in a short term, and we have to do something urgently about this.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker Sir, the Finance Committee has asked the Parliamentary Budget Office to review the Minister’s statement and prepare a paper for us for consideration when we return to the House in September, which will give us some idea of the magnitude of this year’s public deficit and how it can be addressed. I think when this paper comes to the House, we will have to consider it carefully and then make positive recommendations to the Minister and then ask the Minister to review what he is proposing for 2018. I know the process has started, but I believe we have to take urgent action to correct matters in our fiscal affairs.
Another concern of mine with regards to the Minister’s statement is that he did not reveal to the House the full extent of our domestic borrowings. He made no reference to the overdraft at the Reserve Bank, or the debts which we are incurring in various parts of Government which are not reflected in his calculations of Treasury Bill liabilities. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that our domestic debt now approaches the extent of our external debt.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Chipanga, order!
HON. MUNENGAMI: On a point of order! We do not even know what is happening because the Hon. Member is debating but everybody is just walking up and down…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chief Whip, can you put order in your house please! – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] Order, order Hon. Cross.
HON. CROSS: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker I believe there are two issues. The question of the fiscal deficit and the growth in domestic borrowings are the two key issues we have to address in the budget discussion this year. On the positive side, I just want to report to the House that yesterday I held a discussion with some young maize growers and learnt of four growers this season who have grown over 20 tonnes per hectare in maize production. I just want to point out that that is a huge yield of maize and, in my view, shows what we can do as a country if we work together. I thank you.