Mthuli’s 2022 Budget A ‘Ritualistic Formality’: Biti

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By Anna Chibamu

FORMER Finance Minister Tendai Biti has described the 2022 budget presentation made by the incumbent minister, Mthuli Ncube as a “ritualistic formality, and a sordid exercise in mediocrity”.

Ncube presented the national budget in Parliament Thursday where in his speech, he unveiled $92,3 billion for line ministries from a revised Z$509 billion estimated in 2021.

“This 2022 national budget seeks to buttress the growth trajectory established in 2021, and enable the economy to build resilience against shocks, including the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ncube said.

However, Biti rubbished next year’s budget saying it lacked substance or form.

The now MDC Alliance Vice President was the Finance Minister between 2009 and 2013.

That budget presentation was made by a man just going through a ritualistic formality. It was a sordid exercise in mediocrity, mendacity, and lackadaisity,” Biti said in his review.

“A lacklustre and vacuous presentation bereft of substance or form. One totally oblivious to the structural challenges facing Zimbabwe.”

Biti said in his presentation, Ncube had failed to address structural issues around the Zimbabwe dollar, the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank (RBZ) auction rate, and corruption.

“The failure to address the structural issues around currency, the auction rate, deficits, corruption, and the debt question makes the budget irrelevant.

“The illicit takeover of the RBZ’s legacy debts, three years after the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill is criminal. The RBZ is a haven for crime and deficits.

“We have always argued that the class of 2018 is the worst government in the history of governments. We respectfully submit that the 2021 budget is proof beyond reasonable doubt of this contention.”

Biti added the budget was detached from realities on the ground, particularly on exchange rate distortions.

“A brave approach was needed to deal with exchange rate distortions and multiple pricing systems. Truth is de-dollarisation has failed dismally. The failure to address the structural issues around currency, the auction rate, deficits, corruption, and the debt question makes the budget irrelevant,” Biti said in an analysis of Ncube’s budget.

“As we argued before, Zimbabwe faces humongous structural challenges which will not be resolved by imposing punitive taxes that punish working people.”

Meanwhile, MPs who spoke to Thursday said the budget did meet their expectations as it does not address measures to contain current inflationary challenges that are derailing economic progress.

“What l would encourage the minister to do is to disburse funds because as of this November, only 30% of the previous budget has been disbursed,” MDC-T Binga South MP Joel Gabuzza said.

So it does not help much to pronounce figures. We need him to disburse the money otherwise there is nothing new in the budget. There is nothing dramatic to address the problem,” he added.

Independent Norton MP Temba Mliswa added: “We need drastic measures to contain challenges which are there. That was not achieved at all. The minister needed to respond to why line ministries got only 30% of the total budget. Money allocated to line ministries is not enough due to inflation.

“He did not deal with the parallel market rate issue so we keep on chasing the parallel black market rate. There is inconsistency.

“Why do we want to pay the civil servants’ bonus in US dollars now when we have not been giving them this money all year round? Inflation will consume it all. They are not kids. This is a peace meal bonus trying to appease someone or them to keep quiet but this is an insult to them. They need disposable income.”