2014 national budget consultations kick off

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Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa

The 2014 national pre-budget seminar for legislators opened in Victoria Falls on Friday with calls for President Robert Mugabe’s new government to seek debt forgiveness from the West in order to restart the economy.

Njabulo Ncube
Deputy Editor

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told legislators attending the event in Victoria Falls that he had productive engagements last month with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the rescheduling of Zimbabwe’s $ 6.9 billion external debt.

However, legislators told Chinamasa that there was no way the West would cancel Zimbabwe’s outstanding arrears.

Gift Chimanikire, the MDC-T legislator and former Mines and Mining Development deputy minister told the meeting that Zimbabwe should swallow its pride and seek debt cancellation.

“We should ask for debt forgiveness. It has happened elsewhere why not Zimbabwe,” the MP said. “But this needs diplomacy.”

Chinamasa said the government would continue to engage Western funders especially the World Bank and IMF.

He revealed that an IMF team would be in Harare on Tuesday for further consultations.

“I am encouraged by the engagement although they told me Zimbabwe does not qualify for debt forgiveness,” Chinamasa said.

“Zimbabwe has no capacity to pay its foreign debts but we will continue engaging.”

Meanwhile, Chinamasa told legislators that the government’s priority would be to improve the working conditions of its workers in the next budget.

He said other priority areas would be support to national programmes, the 2013/14 summer crop and livestock programme, reducing the stock of domestic payment arrears and non-accumulation of new arrears, servicing of external loan obligations, improving the delivery of social services and reducing the infrastructural deficit.