FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa said Tuesday he was tired of fire-fighting and urged implementation of agreed policies as the Lower House passed his $4.4 billion 2014 budget without amendments.
The fiscal plan is now set to the Senate for further debate before it is sent to President Robert Mugabe for final approval.
The Finance Bill HBI/2014 went through three readings in the National Assembly following debate last Tuesday that lasted till 2300hours before it was adjourned to today.
Defending the budget, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the debate did not proffer solutions on how to get the country out of its economic crisis characterised by a crippling liquidity crunch.
Chinamasa told Parliament that there were too many players in the diamond sector and that government would soon consolidate them to one player without elaborating.
There are currently seven diamond mining companies operating in Marange. The government holds 50 percent shares in all except Marange Resources, which it wholly owns.
“We are moving into that direction and it will take time,” he said.
He said the government would also start exploring for more gems as the valuable kimberlite and conglomerate diamonds only constituted between 10 and 15 percent of total output while the rest were industrials with little value.
There are plans to also market the diamonds in Shanghai and Dubai following the successful first auction in Antwerp in December last year which fetched $10.7 million.
On banks, he said government would soon reintroduce interbank lending to enable banks with excess cash to lend to others.
“Once this has been achieved the next thing to do would be to recapitalise the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and restore its function of banker to the government, a role being played by CBZ Bank,” he said.
Government proposed to assume the RBZ debt of $1.35 billion and recapitalise it to the tune of $200 million.
Chinamasa sought the House’s approval to pass unbudgeted expenditure for last year worth $490 million and a further $400 million payment to service providers which was budgeted for but could not be paid due to shortage of funds. This was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Despite civil servants salaries gobbling 73 percent of its income, Chinamasa said the government would not be retrenching but would instead find ways to grow the economy and accommodate its bloated staff.Advertisement
“On that score I will not put my signature for the retrenchment of civil servants,” he said.
Chinamasa, a lawyer by profession, said he was tired of “fire fighting” to stabilise the economy and called for the speedy implementation of the proposed policies in his budget which he said would rescue the economy.
He proposed to maintain the indigenisation law which critics says needs to be toned down to promote investor confidence and attract foreign direct investment. The law requires foreign-owned firms to cede 51 percent shares to local blacks.
The budget also sought to formalise operations of small scale mining companies through an act of Parliament and proposed tax disincentives on the export of raw platinum and other minerals from January next year.
Chinamasa proposed to forfeit to the State mining claims that are not utilised for three years.