By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has backed Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube for coming up with his National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which sets out clear job creation and economic growth targets while raising critical areas that need attention.
Launched last month, NDS1 is expected to run between 2021 and 2025 with a thrust to aligning the national economy on a growth trajectory.
It succeeds the Transitional Stabilisation Programme which was set to run from 2018 to 2020.
In a rare development, the labour organ has backed the strategy despite decades of disagreement with the government over a number of national policies.
The ZCTU communique on the 2021 National Budget and NDS1 acknowledges the positives embedded in the policies.
“The NDS1 and the 2021 National Budget have clear employment creation and poverty reduction targets.
“The NDS1 also has a clear results framework and implementation matrix for better execution and accountability. This is a commendable move and a clear departure from the past,” reads the communique.
The labour organ acknowledges that the government has come up with a number of positive measures to enhance local capacity of the economy and to incentivise youth employment.
However, ZCTU raised concerns that the Pay as You Earn tax free threshold which was reviewed from $5 000 to $10 000 per month should have been reviewed in line with the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) which is pegged at $17,965.87 as at September 2020.
Concerns over the annual inflation rate of 471.25% in October 2020 and its impact on incomes were also raised.
“The country continues to face challenges related to the high levels of poverty especially among the working class, food insecurity, informality and public indebtedness; the limited fiscal space; inadequate social protection coverage and weak institutions among other shortcomings,” said the labour group.
While acknowledging the country has recorded nominal budget and current account surpluses, ZCTU however said the surpluses have not translated into an improvement in the well-being of the working class and the ordinary citizens as confirmed by the World Bank which estimates that the incidence of extreme poverty increased from 29% in 2018 to 34% in 2019 and about 40% in 2020.
“The huge external burden remains a huge barrier to international re engagement and it is expected to increase on account of the possible financing of the Global Compensation Deed through borrowings,” added ZCTU.