LIVE BLOG: Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presents 2020 national budget


1418: Vice President Kembo Mohadi has arrived.

1419: Professor Ncube has arrived.

1420: National Assembly members have taken their seats and Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda informs the House that Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube will present the budget later on today.

1420: Virtually all MDC Alliance MPs are conspicuous by their absence ahead of 2020 National Budget presentation.

1424: Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda advises MPs of scheduled post budget seminar at Rainbow Towers tomorrow and invites updates for notices of motions.

1429: Norton Independent MP Mliswa rises to complain about the absence of MDC Alliance and questions their sincerity in representing the interest of people they represent and the national interest. Mliswa suggests MDC-A MPs are hypocritical for their apparent snub of the President who is expected to attend the budget presentation. Mliswa takes a jibe at MDC-A MPs for bunking Budget presentation despite attending the prebudget seminar in Victoria Falls a fortnight ago to listen to some MPs appointed by the President they are snubbing.

Mliswa says the MDC-A MPs have taken it too far and should be punished.

“Vakuda shamhu inemunyu,” he says.

1436: Advocate Mudenda warns of stern meausures against absoconding 2020 Budget presentation saying “enough is enough”

1440: President Mnangagwa has arrived.

1446: MPs chant “ED Pfee!” as President Mnangagwa gets into Parliament.

1448: Prof Ncube salutes the President and his Vice Presidents for invaluable support in ongoing economic reforms.

1451: Prof Ncube says the Budget is a People’s Budget, whose theme is, “Gearing for Higher Productivity, Growth and Job Creation”.

“Austerity wasn’t a retribution, national finances were in shambles and required re-balancing,” he says.

1455: He says implementation of key infrastructure projects such as Hwange 7 and 8, RGM International Airport are on course. Cyclone Idai left about 275 000 in need of assistance.

1459: Economic growth of up to 3 percent expected in 2020…2020 national Budget marks exit from austerity to prosperity, says Prof Ncube. All civil servants to get bonuses in November.

1509: Grain subsidies will be removed beginning next year to avoid abuse of facilities. Transport subsidies to continue to cushion travellers.

1522: Mineral exports remain the major sources of foreign currency, especially gold. However, leakages have been on the rise, depriving the country of foreign currency earnings. Government is, therefore, reviewing and tightening the Gold Trade Act, and capacitating the Gold Mobilisation Unit.

Growth Poles will be considered on the basis of comparative advantage of the area. Local authorities have, therefore, a greater role to play in promoting this model through developing the necessary infrastructure and investment mobilisation initiatives. Emphasis will be on ensuring that targeted Growth Poles have the necessary basic infrastructure of portable water and sanitation. The Central Government on its part will provide requisite fiscal incentives.

1525: The Devolution programme should embrace the Rural Growth Poles development model anchored by cascading Special Economic Zones to the respective growth poles.

1526: Tourism is recognised as one of the pillars anchoring the country’s economic growth. The sector has continued on a positive trajectory path as evidenced by tourist arrivals that grew from 1.8 million in 2013, to 2.5 million in 2018. It is expected that tourist arrivals will marginally increase to 2.7 million in 2019, irrespective of the prevailing macroeconomic environment.

1527: Government has approved the concept of the New City being constructed on 18 000 hectares of land in Mt Hampden with the New Parliament Building as the catalyst. A modern Conference Centre will be budgeted under the 2020 National Budget.

1529: Under the 2020 Budget, a fiscal incentive is being introduced to support employers who generate jobs for our young job seekers. Any additional job created will attract a percentage tax rebate to the employer, linked to the employee’s salary. This measure will reduce the employers cost of hiring young people through a cost-sharing mechanism with Government

1531: Investment in infrastructure development plays an important part in job creation. Job opportunities will be created through investments in roads, water, energy, construction, ICT and social sectors infrastructure. It is with this view in mind I have allocated $2.6 billion for infrastructure development under this Budget.

1534: In 2020, the Budget provides for capitalisation of the following institutions, which support various MSMEs projects:
-Women Development Fund, $20 million
-Community Development Fund, $15 million;
-Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank, $100 million
-SMEDCO, $90 million
-Empowerbank, $50 million.

1535: Innovation, which is integral for growth and better job creation is lacking protection and hence suppressed in its infancy. A number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), artists and other entrepreneurship initiatives collapse owing to unfair practices where other organisations take advantage of inventors work and make duplications. This is despite the inventors having invested a considerable amount of money and time in developing innovative products

1538: The Rural Energy Master Plan (REMP) aims at broadening modern energy access through the development of Grid Connected Solar and mini hydropower plants, installation of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) microgrids, Solar Home Systems (SHS), Solar Water Pumping Systems and Biogas Digester Plants.

1541: The rapid development and adoption of ICTs has been transforming every sector of the Zimbabwean economy. The Second Quarter of 2019 show a high active Mobile Penetration Rate of 84.8%, a high Internet Penetration Rate of 57.2%, and a static Fixed Tele-density of 1.9%. To systematically exploit the potential of ICTs for national development and transformation, the Government of Zimbabwe is developing the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan, which is an all-inclusive guideline that clearly articulates how the country will develop, deploy and manage ICTs across all sectors. The Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan and Implementation Strategy, will be part of the National Infrastructure Master Plan.

1544: The Road Development Programme, which commenced in 2018, will be sustained during 2020 with resources being set aside for the Programme, targeting the following:
-Dualisation and upgrading of the Harare-Beitbridge Road, $1 billion
-Ongoing upgrading works on trunk roads, $1.2 billion
-Rehabilitation and maintenance of rural feeder roads through DDF, $120 million
-Local Authority roads, funded through ZINARA, $510.8 million.

1546: A comprehensive Public Transport Policy Framework is required, along with a transparent partnership between Central and Local Government and the private sector. Government has since introduced the Urban Mass Transport System, initially targeted at urban areas, which has also been extended to other parts of the country. Government will deepen and fine tune the system in order to bring sanity to the sector, and meanwhile allocates $540 million as a subsidy to this public policy programme.

1549: Government has made positive gains on some of its healthcare indicators over the recent past. For example, under 5 mortality has fallen from 98 per 1000 live births in 2008, to 56 in 2016. Other areas relate:
-Improvements in immunisation with both DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus) and measles reaching 90% and 95% respectively
-HIV incidence has fallen from 1 to 0.48, while Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT), rate has fallen from above 30 to 5.7, among other achievements.

1552: This Budget responds comprehensively to the plight of the girl child in enhancing their dignity. In anticipation of the finalisation of the Education Act, the Budget is required to have a provision for the supply of sanitary wear for female learners. Based on equity consideration, the proposal is to begin with rural primary and secondary learners from Grade 4 to Upper sixth form and a provision of $200 million has been made under this Budget.

1558: Based on the Auditor General’s Report, Government is losing resources through corrupt activities. In addition, corruption in some parastatals and Local Authorities has compromised some desired development outcomes. There is a risk that some Development Partners may withhold funding for critical programmes and/or projects. Delays in taking remedial action against violations identified in audit reports has the unintended effects of propagating corrupt tendencies in the public service.

To avert this risk, Government from 2020 will focus on:
-Strengthening the internal control systems through among others, finalisation of the establishment of the Centralised Internal Audit Unit.
-Developing and implementing a national anti-corruption strategy aligned with good practice principles with periodic monitoring and evaluation results.
-Enacting whistle blower legislation and protection in line with international best practices
-Capacitating institutions established to combat corruption
-Addressing conflict of interest issues where Government is both regulator and player.

Furthermore, observations by the Auditor General will be pursued with a view of taking corrective measures.

1602: It is recommended that the pension preservation amount be reviewed from the current $600 to $6,000 in order to ensure that the amount preserved is decent enough to warrant payment of a deferred pension at retirement, after meeting preservation expenses. It is further proposed that the minimum commutable pension be reviewed from $50 to $500 per month, in line with inflation developments in the economy.

1612: Mr Speaker Sir, numerous incentives to support growth are already in place. These incentives cover productive sectors, which include, agriculture, mining manufacturing and tourism, among others. The incentives have contributed to the restoration of production capacity and enhanced competitiveness of some industries. During the period 2011 to May 2019, revenue foregone as a result of tax incentives amounted to US$1.45 billion.

1614: In order to promote growth and formalisation of small scale manufacturers, I propose a Duty Refund Facility, whereby Small Scale Furniture Manufacturers pay duty on imported raw materials, which is claimable on a quarterly basis, with effect from 1st January, 2020.

1616: Notwithstanding the progress realised, there is need to further support the industry to reach its full potential. I, therefore, propose the following incentives: 1616: Notwithstanding the progress realised, there is need to further support the industry to reach its full potential. I, therefore, propose the following incentives:

-Extend Rebate of Duty on capital equipment imported by operators of hotels and lodges for a further 3 years, beginning 1 January, 2020. -Extend Suspension of Duty on motor vehicles used by Safari Operators for game views and drives for 24 months, beginning 1 January, 2020.

-Introduce a Suspension of Duty facility to car hire companies for a period of 12 months beginning 1 January, 2020, subject to the following conditions-Extend the Suspension of Duty on the remaining vehicles used by tour operators for a further 1 year.

1631: I propose to review the tax free threshold from ZWL$700 to ZWL$2 000 per month and adjust the tax bands to begin at $2 001 and end at $50 000, above which the highest marginal tax rate of 40%, in line with economic developments, with effect from 1 January, 2020. I, further, propose to review the tax free bonus from $1 000 to $5 000, with effect from 1 November, 2019.

In order to safeguard the value of retrenchment packages, I propose to review the non-taxable portion of the retrenchment package from $10 000 to $50 000 or one-third of the package, to maximum of $80 000. I propose to review the Tax-Free Threshold from the current $20 to $100 and the maximum tax payable per transaction by corporates from the current $15 000 to $25 000 for transactions with values exceeding $1 250 000.

For the avoidance of doubt, all bulk payments through mobile Money Banking Platforms attract intermediated money transfer tax, except where such payments relate to remuneration.

1632: I propose to reduce the VAT standard rate from 15% to 14.5%, with effect from 1 January, 2020, in order to stimulate aggregate demand.

1633: The monetary and fiscal reforms undertaken if supported by increased domestic production will clearly lay a firm foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. In this regard, our thrust and priority for 2020 is centred on domestic production, productivity and job creation, all leading to growth. While we are focusing on productivity and growth we are not lost to broader understanding of human and overall development, which to quote Amartya Sen Philosopher, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics and India Economist, “he argues that human development is about expansion of citizen’s capabilities to fend for themselves.’’

1635: Professor Ncube has finished his presentation. That concludes our updates.


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