ZCTU blasts 2019 budget, says fiscal plan meant to impress Zimbabwe’s external creditors

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has condemned the 2019 budget statement saying it not address the plight of poor workers and is premised on trying to impress external creditors.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube president his 2019 fiscal proposals to Parliament on Thursday, revealing that the budget deficit would widen to 11.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year, compared with a previous forecast of 3.5 percent.

The budget also projected lower economic growth of 4 percent for this year, from 6.3 percent previously.

In an interview with Friday, ZCTU President Peter Mutasa said Ncube’s budget proposals were anchored on austerity and values which were widely scorned for against the lower classes in society.

“The government did not consult citizens on the vision 2030 and the Transitional Stabilization Programme. Thus, it speaks more to the desires of external stakeholders like our creditors and perceived investors more than it speaks to citizens and addresses our challenges,” said Mutasa.

The labour union boss said that the new fiscal measures would further erode salaries and savings due to exchange rate distortions and, further, force businesses into distress resulting in company closures and job cuts.  

“In fact, government has gone on to demand payment of duty for vehicles in foreign currency despite maintaining that bond notes and RTGS are at par to the US dollar which will encourage retailers and service providers to demand payments in foreign currency, a situation which will cause more hardships to the workers who are earning in RTGS,” Mutasa said.

The ZCTU boss said that there is need for an urgent meeting with social partners to map the way forward.

“Our way forward is that there must be urgent national dialogue. The Tripartite Negotiating Forum must be convened to negotiate a real social contract which addresses the crisis.

“We must address the country risk factors holistically, systematically and in an inclusive manner. 

“There must also be some dialogue aiming at a political settlement and nation building. We cannot achieve much as a polarised nation.

“In the meantime, workers must be paid in foreign currency in order to retain the value of their salaries.”