The expectations and hype which characterised the pre-budget period is finally over. Zimbabweans are now trying to come to terms with the 4-billion national budget statement presented this Thursday by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.While some have described the statement as pro-poor and progressive, others say the fiscal statement was populist and predictable.
The 2012 national budget statement projects a 9.4% economic growth next year.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries President, Dr. Joseph Kanyekanye, who described the statement as expansionary and consistent with the Medium Term Plan, applauded the Minister for recognising the important role played by the mining and agriculture sectors.
He added that there is need to leverage the countryâ€™s sound resource base for the attainment of sustainable economic development.
Business Council of Zimbabwe Chairman, Mr. David Govere, welcomed financial support extended to industry in particular the US$60 million earmarked for broader Industrial Revival Fund.
He however said more needs to be done in supporting agriculture and value addition.
Describing the budget as ambitious, economic analyst, Mr. Kipson Gundani said the 2012 national budgetâ€™s thrust towards social investments is welcome in as far as it creates employment and sustainable economic growth.
Tax reform has been one of the major highlights of the 2012 budget with the suspension of duty on products that are locally produced, adjustment of the tax free threshold from US$225 to US$250, as well as review of royalties on gold and platinum upwards from 4.5% and 5% to 7% and 10% respectively.
Tax expert, Mr. Masaire, who welcomed the tax measures, however believes the proposed penalties on fiscalised tax registers as well as the 45% top bracket tax are burdensome.
Against the expectations of the civil servants, the Finance Minister did not adjust the salaries of the civil servants, arguing that recurrent expenditure is accounting for around 63% of the total budget.
Bitiâ€™s failure to allocate funds for the 2012 elections has been a major talking point. His theme of sustaining an inclusive growth with jobs has also been perceived by other sectors as denying the empowerment approach in preference to his partyâ€™s manifesto which chooses to rather focus on jobs.