2019 National Budget : Budget Debate 18 December 2018 - Speech by Hon Tendai Biti, MP, former Minister of Finance 2009-2013



            HON. BITI: Hon. Speaker Sir, it is a great pleasure to debate the 2019 National Budget.  This budget, Hon. Speaker Sir, could not have come at a time of greater fragility and greater vulnerability of our country.  The economic situation is dire, difficult and is arrested by a number of multiple imbalances.  These include the fact that for many years our economy has been stuck in a recession characterised by low output. Since 2012, our economy has basically been on a downward spiral recording GDP declines.

            Apart from the challenge of low productivity, weak GDP figures, we have the challenge of fiscal ill-discipline reflected in a gross and acerbic budget deficit.  That we have a budget deficit that is in excess of 15% of GDP is not acceptable but that is the order of the day.

            We also have a challenge, until recently, of weak and none aggregate demand unlike the crisis of 2007/8 where we had a crisis of under accumulation with all of us being billionaires and trillionaires but with hardly anything available to buy in shops.  The current crisis has been characterised by shops that have actually been full of goods but people and persons have not had the capacity to purchase goods and commodities. 

            We have also had the challenge of currency and currency distortions, the shortage of cash and the challenges around the exchange rate.  These are the issues that are affecting our country; these are the issues that our people are living with.  Therefore, the 2019 budget was going to be a critical one.  It was always going to be a critical one because to the ordinary average person in the street, he or she expected a remedy out of the ills and mischief arresting this country.

  I submit Mr. Chairperson, that the 2019 budget had to be a remedial budget, one that dealt with the challenges of currency distortions, fiscal ill-discipline, crippling domestic debt and crippling sovereign debt.  The question Mr. Speaker is; did the budget in fact pass the test; did the budget in fact provide an answer, a solution to the challenges that I have identified?  With great respect to the Minister, I submit that the budget did not provide a remedy, an answer and a solution to these structural challenges that are affecting our country.

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