President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday declared that there is no going back on the raft of economic measures that his government is implementing despite a public outcry and skyrocketing prices, saying there was no quick-fix to the economy.
Business yesterday said it was ambushed by the government decision to hike taxes on transfers, while the public objected to the levy, which they said would be paying for the government’s profligate spending while raising prices of basic commodities.
Responding to questions at a Professional Women, Women Executives and Business Women Forum (Proweb) organised breakfast meeting, Mnangagwa said his government was going in the right direction despite the worsening economic challenges.
“The liberalisation of the economy has its own pains [and] this is one of the pains that we are going to go through. I am happy that you have said I am decisive for good or bad, I’m decisive,” he said.
“We will not continue to live in the past when the world is going ahead with the ICT [information communication technology]. Zimbabwe should never remain behind.
“The traditional methods of revenue collection are changing by the day. Migrating from the past tradition to modern ICT patterns, as Zimbabwe, we must follow and adapt ourselves to modern trends in terms of revenue collection.”
Mnangagwa said those that were making noise about the 2% revenue collection must take time to study the measures before raising dust.
He said there were tax exemptions such as the transfer of money between companies and payment of salaries.
Despite complaints that the measures were hurting and making life unbearable for ordinary citizens, the President said such measures were necessary and would continue to be implemented.
He said it was better to make the economy happy than individuals.
“We have taken cognisance of not punishing our people unnecessarily, but it is necessary if you look at the challenges that we are having now, both for the issue of internal debt and external debt. Where we stand today, as Zimbabwe, for us again to become a viable economy, a solid economy, we are going to take measures that are going to be painful and this is one of such measures.”
Mnangagwa said this was a necessary starting point which would be improved in future.
He said the government was happy to get feedback from the people regarding the measures.
“As we go forward, we must strike a balance between what is good for us again to support the public sector in order to have a huge percentage of the budget being applied to capital expenditure than social expenditure, this is what is there,” he said.
“We will not please the taxpayer. No! We want to please the economy of the country, and not the individual. The individual, myself and yourself, must make sure that we produce and produce. We need productivity for us to earn the foreign currency which we can use to modernise and retool both industry and commerce. It will not come from anywhere, but from productivity.”
The business sector has also raised concern over the new measures.
Since the announcement, the black market has been rising as prices of basic commodities soar.
The hikes, which saw the price of a 2-litre bottle of cooking oil jumping from $2,85 to about $15, were triggered by the US dollar premium on the black market, which spiked to 165% from 120% last Monday, according to traders.
Mnangagwa said he would continue listening to the feedback and try to jump-start the economy that has been stagnant for decades.
“We will not, in our quest, leapfrog and cover the period of two decades of stagnation, these things have become necessary.
“Yes, we may differ as to how that journey might be walked, but we must begin walking and as we walk the journey, patriotic Zimbabweans will come forward and say we should do it this way, why don’t we do it this way and we are a listening leadership and we will always take on board those contributions that we think are constructive and progressive for purposes of having a solid economy for our country,” he said.
The opposition and other civic society groups are this week planning demonstrations to force the government to suspend some of its measures.
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