By Anna Chibamu
GOVERNMENT is implementing the Road Development Programme (RDP) which seeks to upgrade 98 133 km road network countrywide, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has said.
In a statement released Friday, Ncube said the programme to be carried out in a phased approach, has been made possible by the $464 606 906 drawn from the fiscus with some of the resources coming from the controversial 2% Intermediate Money Transfer Tax (IMTT) introduced a year ago.
“As part of our thrust towards development across the country as well as opening economic opportunities for inaccessible regions, government is implementing the Road Development Programme which seeks to upgrade in a phased approach our 98 133km road network.
“As at 15 October, $464 606 906 has been availed from the fiscus, drawing some of the resources from the 2% Intermediated Money Transfer Tax (IMTT).
“This amount excludes support from the Road Fund (ZINARA) which mainly targets maintenance programmes implemented by road authorities, that is, the Department of Roads (DOD), District Development Fund (DDF) and Local Authorities,” said Ncube.
But authorities argue, given Zimbabwe’s highly informalised economy the transactional tax provides government with space to plug gaps in its taxation system that mainly target formal employment and business.
The move comes as a relief to road users after potholes had become a common experience in some major and secondary roads countrywide, raising vehicle maintenance costs for car owners.
Ncube was taken to court after he introduced the 2% tax which human rights groups argue was illegal and accused government of robbing them of their hard earned cash through the levy.
According to Ncube, road infrastructure is arguably the most important of all public assets as it contributes to economic development and growth whilst providing access to economic opportunities, employment, health and education services as part of the national strategy to fight poverty.
“Investments in a well-connected road network is good for both business and balanced development in the country. It opens up previously inaccessible areas whilst also crowding in private sector investment to our growth points and service centres, thereby stimulating economic and social development for our rural communities,” added Ncube.
He said significant progress has been achieved on targeted roads throughout the country where a total of $893,217,000 was used to fund some of the projects.
These included construction of airstrips, repairing of Cyclone Idai (under Cyclone Idai projects) damaged roads and construction of the washed away bridges in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts, road construction and upgrading National Parks Roads, road surfacing under District Development Fund executed works.