Massive calls have erupted for ruling Zanu PF and opposition Citizens Coalition for Change lawmakers to unite and reject Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube’s 2024 National Budget, describing it as “anti-industry” and “anti-people”.
Prof Ncube presented the 2024 National Budget on Thursday, which came with a cocktail of new tax hike such as the tollgate fees, sugar tax on beverages, car registration fees and the mansion tax, among others.
Passport fees have also been hiked.
While the government believes the budget will go a long way in increasing revenue, analysts view it as anti-poor.
Renowned economist, Professor Gift Mugano said Ncube’s decision to hike taxes will impact negatively on the market. He urged the Parliament to reject the budget.
“Parliament must reject the anti-people and anti- industry budget which was presented by Mthuli Ncube yesterday,” Mugano said.
“The proposed tax hikes and the move to exclude the informal traders from the mainstream economy will bring more pain to the already impoverished people.
“The decision to exclude traders without VAT certificate is very harsh and insensitive considering that more than 6 million people thrives on trading in the face of 85% formal unemployment and drought of economic opportunities. These people, in their individual capacities, don’t have annual sales turnover of US$25 000 which is required to secure the VAT certificate.
“This measure is expected to impact on the manufacturing sector negatively because the informal sector helps them to push volumes especially in manufacturing industries such as food and beverages (bread, ice cream, drinks, etc).
“In the bread sector, for example, the volumes are pushed by vendors and tuckshops (not supermarkets) which are now supposed to be excluded from the bread value chain. This will result in a drastic fall in sales which has a net negative effect on production and jobs.”
Mugano further urged both Zanu PF and CCC MPs to unite and vote against the budget.
“If Parliament is going to act in the best interest of the public, they must reject this budget and request Mthuli Ncube redo the budget and produce a pro-poor budget.
“It is my prayer that Zanu PF and CCC MPs unite on this one and reject this useless budget. If Zanu-PF uses their majority vote to support this useless budget and overpower CCC by virtue of their numbers, they are voting for more poverty for their rural constituencies where they got most of their votes. In the same way, they are punishing the 6 million people in the informal sector as they will be endorsing their exclusion from the manufacturing sector value chains,” he said.
Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the 2024 budget “is a shocking parody of fascism, extraction, dishonesty, incompetence and downright narcissism”.
Biti added that Ncube’s new policies reflect that the government is detached from the plight of the poor citizens of Zimbabwe.
“The 2024 Budget reflects a regime totally oblivious of the structural challenges facing the economy, the plight of the ordinary citizen, and the myriad issues affecting business. The Budget betrays lack of respect of economic fundamentals and as a result its prescriptions are a disastrous panalopy of cruel extractive illegal if not unconstitutional measures,” he said.
The senior CCC official said it was not necessary for the government to impose a massive array of taxes on a population mulcted by poverty and social challenges.
“The increase in toll gate charges, passport fees, duty on soft drinks, vehicle registration, fuel levy are narcissistic and unnecessary," he said.