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All eyes on Chinamasa

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BULAWAYO distressed companies expect Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to unveil a rescue package when he presents the 2014 national budget on Thursday.

GAMMA MUDARIKIRI
OWN CORRESPONDENT

The long-awaited budget presentation would come at a time when the economy is on a tailspin owing to the poor performance of key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

The Bulawayo Business Arise (BBA) organisation said the budget should be an implementation strategy of the much-hyped Zanu PF economic policy — the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).

BBA administrator George Mukamba said the local business community expected the government to come up with new austerity measures targeted at Bulawayo after the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Fund set up by the inclusive government failed to make an impact.

“Industry in Bulawayo is anticipating a new financial line from the government,” Mukamba said.

“Industry is in severe distress and we are hoping that the government will allocate something in the coming budget for industry revival.”

Industries in Bulawayo need at least $400 million to recapitalise after the shutting down of close to 100 companies last year.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Bulawayo chapter president Cletus Moyo said the economic outlook was bleak and the budget should be used to breathe life into all struggling sectors.

“Frankly, the outlook of industry in the short term is bleak,” he said.

“There should be a clear policy of protecting local industry from cheap and smuggled imports. There should be zero duty on imported raw materials.”

Observers say Chinamasa faces a mammoth task as he is expected to deliver a budget that will restore public confidence in the Zanu PF administration.

President Robert Mugabe’s first 100 days in the new term that began in August have been devoid of any new measures to uplift the struggling economy.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority missed its quarterly revenue collection target quarter after collecting $897,3 million instead of the projected $904,9 million.

Renowned economic analyst John Robertson recently warned of another economic downturn reminiscent of the 2006-2007 pre-coalition government days.

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