THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has urged the government to take serious steps to curb spending including suspension of bonuses for civil servants until the economy stabilises.
CZI president Sifelani Jabangwe appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance on Monday to speak on proposals for the 2018 National Budget together with a delegation from the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Chamber of Mines.
“We recommend dialogue between civil service unions, labour and government to eliminate ghost workers, suspend annual bonuses and cut down on foreign travel by government,” Jabangwe said.
“We believe that the most efficient short-term measures that the government should take is to go back to strict cash budgeting, supported by social dialogue and ministries should desist from accruing more expenses unless cash is available.”
Jabangwe said Finance minister Ignatius Chombo should continue to enforce local procurement, while calling for transparency on imports to ensure that the government procures locally and supports local industries.
BAZ chief executive officer Sijabuliso Biyam said government expenditure continued to be unsustainable as it was far in excess of its capacity to generate revenue.
“We recommend that the government can reduce expenditure by cutting the size of the civil service, but obviously, it has negative effects in that you are throwing people out of employment.”
Biyam suggested that the government needed to widen its revenue base by focusing attention on small and medium enterprises and promulgating legislation to assist them to formalise.
“As things stand, we are issuing a lot of Treasury Bills and they may be the comfort zone on the government side, but at the end of the day, it is money created to support consumption, it is not money created to support infrastructure and issues that will grow the economy,” Biyam said.
Chamber of Mines president Batsirai Manhando said the mining industry would generate about $2,4 billion this year with growth being registered in gold, platinum, diamonds, chrome, nickel and other minerals.
Chamber of Mines chief executive officer Isaac Kwesu said the mining sector was experiencing acute foreign currency shortages to import raw materials yet they were the suppliers of 50% of foreign currency requirements in the country.
“The performance of gold this year will be up by 10%, platinum by 6%, diamond performance will be up by 100%, chrome by 180%, nickel by 1% and coal by 90%,” he said.
But Harare East MP Terence Mukupe (Zanu PF) queried how diamond performance would go up by 100% when nothing had been happening at the diamond fields.
Kwesu said last year 1,7 million carats were produced while projection for this year had been set at 3,5 million carats.
At its peak, the country used to produce 10 million carats per year.