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Zimbabwe finance minister reiterates
economy to grow by 3.7 pct in 2017   

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Thursday reiterated that the country’s stuttering economy will grow by 3.7 pct in 2017 from 0.6 percent last year, underpinned by strong performance in agriculture, mining, electricity and water.

He said agriculture was expected to grow by a whopping 21.3 percent while mining will expand by 5.21 percent and 2.5 percent for electricity and water.

Zimbabwe will record a bumper maize harvest of 2.1 million tonnes in 2017 due to good rains, up from 512,000 tonnes in 2016 and more than the national requirement of 1.8 million tones.

Growth in mining was expected to be spurred by the partial recovery in international commodity prices expected this year, the minister said while presenting an annual budget review statement in parliament.

The World Bank has forecast Zimbabwe’s economy to grow by 2.8 percent in 2017.

Chinamasa said the Zimbabwe government had earmarked 334 million U.S. dollars for command agriculture support in the 2017/18 agriculture season.

Buoyed by the success of its inaugural command maize production scheme this year, the government has announced that it will expand the scheme to wheat, livestock, fisheries and wildlife next year to boost food security in the country.

“This will be complemented by the presidential input scheme costing 153.1 million dollars to cater for about 1.8 million rural vulnerable households,” Chinamasa said.

He said following the bumper harvest government had banned maize imports and reached an arrangement with millers for them to buy 800,000 tonnes of maize from state grain procurer at an import parity price.

The millers had already paid 30 million dollars to government for the maize purchased.

Meanwhile, the minister decried high government wage bill, which accounted for 65.5 percent and 91.7 percent of overall budget expenditure and revenue in 2016.

He called for further measures to cut the civil service workforce to contain runway government expenditure against declining revenue.

The minister said Zimbabwe received 471.2 million dollars from development partners in 2016.

The budget deficit for 2016 rose to 1.4 billion, higher than 1.18 initially announced in December, Chinamasa said.

The deficit widened mainly due to government mobilization of funds to meet grain imports following a severe drought which left a quarter of the rural population in need of food aid.

The deficit also widened after government paid 134 million dollars as compensation to white former commercial farmers, the minister said.

Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform exercise beginning in 2000 under which it repossessed land from white commercial farmers for redistribution to landless blacks.



Zimbabwe surpasses 2017 first half revenue target

HARARE (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe surpassed its revenue target for the first half of 2017 by 9.74 percent after net collections stood at 1.701 billion U.S. dollars against 1.550 billion dollars collected during the same period last year.

Gross collections for the period under review stood at 1.789 billion dollars, 8.05 percent above target, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) said Thursday.

“Company tax, valued added tax on imports, mining royalties, dividends, fees, interest remittances and other indirect taxes surpassed their set targets for the first half of 2017,” ZIMRA said.

ZIMRA attributed the positive performance to revenue enhancement measures it is implementing such as automation, audits and anti-corruption initiatives.

Board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe said the tax agency was upping its fight against tax corruption, pointing out that during the period, the anti-corruption hotline received 394 reports, out of which 218 were fully investigated while the remaining cases were still under different stages of investigation.

“The investigations yielded about 120 million dollars in assessments,” Bonyongwe said.

She called for more measures to increase tax compliance, noting that “most traders in the central business district and major shopping centers are yet to comply.”

Bonyongwe said Zimbabwe could easily collect 6 billion dollars in revenue annually if everyone was tax compliant.

She said tax debt increased by 16.85 percent during the first half from 2.76 billion dollars in January to 3.12 billion dollars as at June 30, as companies struggle to survive in the difficult economic environment.

Zimbabwe’s projected revenue target for 2017 is 3.4 billion dollars against an expenditure of 3.7 billion dollars. 

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