Harare – Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Thursday presented a National Budget for 2018 that was seen by many as the right step towards the country’s economic recovery.
In the budget, the minister proposed austerity measures that will include freezing recruitment of new workers across the board.
From January 2018, the Zimbabwean government will retire staff above the age of 65 as well as introduce a voluntary retirement scheme that serves to rationalise the public service wage bill.
New Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already taken the initiative towards a leaner government structure by trimming down the number of ministries from 27 to 21.
Chinamasa reviewed downwards the number of government-issued vehicles to officials as well as the size of delegations to regional and international forums, saying that a diplomatic presence in destination countries will be used to represent the country.
The Zimbabwean government said it will also be enforcing restrictions on travel class, with only ministers and a few others being allowed to travel business class.
“Disciplinary measures will be instituted against anyone in violation of this directive and the cost incurred on such travel will be recovered directly from the individual involved,” said Chinamasa.
From 2018, the government is also putting a stop to unabated flow of budget resources to public enterprises and local authorities without any returns, either through dividends or meaningful public service delivery.
“Government support to public entities will strictly be conditional on credible and bankable turnaround strategies, complemented by stringent cost containment measures,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been in the economic doldrums for more than two decades as former president Robert Mugabe reneged on or failed to implement investor-friendly policies.
According to Chinamasa, most of Thursday’s proposals have been around before but failed at the implementation stage.
“Corrective measures to address the apparent fiscal indiscipline have constantly been proffered and, in a number of cases, Cabinet has embraced recommendations made, only for these to be arbitrarily reversed or ignored, reflective of lack of political will,” said Chinamasa.
It is hoped that there is now the political will to implement the new measures. – Fin24