By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has challenged Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube to urgently adopt pro-job creation budgeting, which encompasses clear cut quarterly and annual targets.
The labour body is also agitating for Treasury to give preference to welfare-related ministries in-order to reduce poverty.
The concerns come at a time when extreme poverty levels bedevilling the country have reached 49% of the total population, leaving almost half the populace in hardship.
Despite efforts by the government and the monetary authorities to ease the hardships through policy implementation, the legacy political and debt problems inherited from the previous administration have remained a thorn in the flesh.
The recent Russia/Ukraine war has not spared the troubled Southern African nation either.
Presenting the post Mid-Term Budget Review analysis this week, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo told NewZimbabwe.com that the treasury boss ought to depart from the routine budgeting processes, which are silent on job creation.
“In line with international best practices, the country must adopt a pro-employment budgeting framework which integrates and mainstreams an employment perspective in planning and budgeting process,” said Moyo.
“Under this framework, the Public Service and Labour Ministry must have adequate fiscal resources and capacity to implement labour market policies and to coordinate the implementation of a national employment policy and strategies with key productive ministries such as the Agriculture and Industry ministries, among others.”
Moyo argued that the bulk of Ncube’s interventions over the past years have neither been strongly employment-intensive nor poverty-reducing, leaving the majority of the citizens without access to social safety nets necessary to mitigate the deleterious impact of the chronic high inflation.
Moreover, he said, the government’s social spending has remained very low accounting for only 9% of total fiscal spending during the first half of the year. He underscored the need for the National Budget to enhance the quality and pattern of economic growth in the country through facilitating structural transformation.
The labour leader also called for technological upgrading, and diversification which will shift resources from low value-added activities to those with higher value added.
“Such bold transition necessitates prioritisation of both public resources and private investments in sectors with strong decent job creation potential, including the care economy, health sector, green economy and education on a more significant scale than the current levels,” said Moyo.
He also stressed that it is also important to ensure that employment creation targets across ministries are “quantified, qualified or monitored” in order to move beyond the rhetoric of just acknowledging the important of job creation.
“You will also realise that welfare base expenditure remains very low , for instance, the expenditure to the Health and Child Care Ministry at the current ZW$31,8 billion only represents about 6% of total spending, which is way below the 15% Abuja Declaration target.
“On the other hand, the expenditure towards the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education of ZWL$54,8 billion is below the Dakar Declaration target of at least 20% ,” argued Moyo.
The ZCTU leader castigated Ncube for increasing the tax-free salary and bonus thresholds by 40% and 100% respectively, saying such measures will not spur workers disposable incomes considering that they fall far short of the current annual inflation rate of 256%.