By Edward Mukaro
PARLIAMENT is growingly concerned by the Government’s delay in disbursing the announced $18.2 Billion stimulus package to assist different sectors of the economy and society to stay afloat, amid the outbreak of COVID- 19.
The pandemic (COVID-19) has accounted for the loss of thousands of jobs in the country that has already been grappling to rejuvenate an economy that has been battered by a complex of factors such as Cyclone Idai, incessant droughts, among and other issues.
Announcement of a rescue package by Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, had brought in some sense of hope in the productive industries like agriculture and the manufacturing sectors.
Tabling the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development’s analysis of the 2020 Mid-Term National Budget Review, portfolio committee chair, Felix Mhona, expressed legislator’s concern at the pace at which government was disbursing the COVID- 19 stimulus package.
“The Committee is concerned with the delay in the disbursement of the $18.2 billion stimulus package, which amounts to 28.6% of the 2020 national budget.
“When the package was announced, it was worth US$720 million, using official exchange rate of US 1 Z: 25 and US$360m using parallel market rates. These delays in the wake of imminent prolonged lockdowns will exacerbate the impact of the pandemic on the economy. As such, a growth target of -4.5% may not be achieved,” said Mhona.
According to the minister of finance, a total of ZWL$6.1 billion has already been extended to the agriculture sector, while a reported ZWL$3 billion has been channelled towards the working capital fund for the industry.
As COVID- 19 reared its ugly head on the global economy and lives of millions of people, the Government of Zimbabwe, like most around the planet, imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 30, which has thus far undergone various reviews and adjustments.
However, the lockdown has had adverse effects on the population as informal traders have been forbidden to report to their workstations, at times, exposing millions to hunger and poverty, as businesses have suffered losses owing to reduced operation hours, while others have ground to a halt as they have failed to meet operation costs.
Recently, the government announced the opening-up of the Tourism industry, a move that is most likely to see other industries that rely on tourism to function resuming operations.
By Edward Mukaro