An economist and trade finance specialist, Persistence Gwanyanya (PG), has projected failure of government initiatives if there are no efforts to contain mismanagement of public funds. He speaks after Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, in his 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review Statement and Supplementary Budget on Thursday proposed to set aside ZWL$3.2 billion to support the agriculture sector. Ncube was speaking amid reports that US$3 billion Command Agriculture fund disappeared without a trace. Below are excerpts from Gwanyanya’s interview with the Herald Deputy News Editor Africa Moyo (AM).
AM: Minister Ncube provided a lot of support for agriculture and social safety nets. Was this a positive development or will it further strain the fiscus?
PG: Following the establishment of the interbank market and subsequent depreciation of the Zimdollar, agriculture support of ZWL$3.2 billion was necessary as farmers earnings were heavily eroded by the ensuing Zimdollar depreciation. However, mechanisms to ensure that this support is not abused, as before, cannot be overemphasised. In these trying times, an additional fund of ZWL$1 billion towards social protection will be well received by the vulnerable members of the society and again we can’t overemphasise the need to guard against embezzlement of these funds.
In view of the Government position to liberalise the fuel sub-sector, which has also seen adjustments of fuel prices in line with the interbank market, an efficient public transport system is also necessary to resolve transport woes. Just some few days ago, the President commissioned some 47 buses and it’s unsurprising that Treasury allocated an additional amount of ZWL$528 million towards public transport system.
More: The Herald
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