By Anna Chibamu
ZIMBABWEAN citizens have called on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to come up with an all-inclusive annual budget for 2022 saying his current one was too elitist.
This came out during a public consultation hearing by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance in Harare Monday.
The hearing was chaired by Shurugwi South MP Edmond Mkaratigwa and had participants from all walks of life.
Economist Masimba Manyanya bemoaned Ncube’s heavy taxation regime which he argued was skewed against the poor.
“I am seeing a trend where corporate tax is falling from 13% in 2020 to 9% in 2021 where the Value Added Tax (VAT) has remained at an average of 25% in the same period. Pay As You Earn (PAYEE) is going down from 13% to 11%. VAT is the poor man’s tax, so this means the economy is being funded by the ordinary citizen. Just because we are industrialising, more companies should be paying corporate tax and this tax must go up from 9% to 30%. Vat being an aggressive tax should go down to 5%,” he said.
Musician Chioniso Rutsito told the committee that artists were being left out of the country’s economic affairs.
“As musicians, we market our country the world over through our artistic work, but we are not taken seriously. Zvinongonzi ndezvechirombe (we are considered paupers). Can government also include us in this budget through a certain percentage in funding to support our production? The Finance ministry should invest in our work,” Rutsito said.
She also condemned the low support in developmental projects by women especially in schools and low support in the health sector regarding mental health and abuse rehabilitation.
“Mental health is critical and this health department should be prioritised in this Covid-19 era as well as the drug abuse situation which has been ignored for so long by authorities. We need more infrastructure in terms of rehabilitation centres for our children who are struggling with the situation,” Rutsito added.
18-year-old Tanaka Mutangandebvu of Epworth, a sporting enthusiast with big dreams, urged government to spend more in the upgrade of public sporting facilities saying this would go a long way in improving the country’s performances.
“Our sports facilities are dilapidated in the ghettos where l come from. The national team performance has been very disappointing due to lack of enough funding and poor infrastructure. Economic empowerment projects are not supported. Where is the central government? It should identify youths talent in the ghettos,” Matangandebvu stated.
A woman living with disability described said government should increase social welfare spending.
“With only $3000 that l get from the Social Welfare Department, l forego too many things that are essential to my survival. Even the police impound my wares when l sell products at street corners. We do not want to beg from the streets, but we want to contribute to the growth of the economy through working just like everyone else who is able bodied,” she said.