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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 37 – 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
November 29, 2012

Introduction

Parliament resumed its sitting on Tuesday 27 November 2012 after a week-long break since the presentation of the 2013 National Budget by the Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti. The break was meant to allow committees to analyze budget allocations to the sector ministries they shadow. Both Houses of Parliament unanimously passed the Budget yesterday.

Budget Debate

Debate on the 2013 National Budget in the House of Assembly was led by the Chairman of Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, and Investment Promotion, Hon. Paddy Zhanda. In his report to the House Hon. Zhanda noted that Members were not given sufficient time to analyze the proposed budget.

Concerning the 2013 budget itself he noted that the country finds itself having to deal with a US$3.860 billion resource envelope against a number of requirements and expectations, explicitly expressed by Zimbabweans when the Committee and the Ministry conducted public consultations towards the end of October 2012. Hence he argued that greater effort should be placed on measures to increase the revenue base. He said that it is only after having achieved a growth of US$8 billion to US$10 billion budget that the country can start being critical about the distribution aspects.

He pointed out that the Minister of finance should put in place agricultural policy measures that ensure the production cycle is complete by ensuring that the farmers have easy access to markets and the necessary infrastructure. Concerning the mining sector he said that there is general consensus on the mining sector’s great potential to stimulate economic growth given the projected overall growth of 10.1% in 2012 and 17.1% in 2013. The Committee urged the Minister to specify the exact measures that will be taken to promote the sector for example the fiscal review indicated in the statement.

Regarding the manufacturing sector, the committee noted that the costs of production in the country were too high rendering local products uncompetitive on the local, regional and international markets. Linked to this issue is the high cost of labour and the inflexible labour laws. The Committee recommended that the concept of social dialogue be revisited and implemented in order to find a lasting solution to these challenges.

Hon. Zhanda highlighted that the committee was concerned about the projected revenues of $392 million from customs duty which he said did not reflect in any way the present volume of imports to Zimbabwe. Imports of vehicles in 2012 alone have exceeded $1.4 billion dollars yet revenue collected from this item was far below projected figures. The Committee attributed this to under-declaration of imports or outright smuggling of goods into the country.

Chairpersons of other Portfolio Committees followed suit and presented their sectoral reports. The theme that ran across their reports was inadequate funding to the ministries they shadow. Be that as it may, their reports did not provide solutions on how the Ministry of Finance should finance the increased allocations to the ministries they shadow.

Abolition of Death Penalty

Senators called for the abolition of death penalty in Zimbabwe’s penal system in line with the Resolution of the UN Security Council which rejected death sentence by the International Tribunal for those convicted of heinous crimes against humanity in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Senators were debating a motion introduced in the House by the Chairman of the Thematic Committee on Human Rights, Sen. Misheck Marava.

Adjournment of Parliament

Both Houses are set to adjournment today until end of January 2013.

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