Mid Fiscal Policy Review: AN EMPTY BASKET FOR YOUNG WOMEN

The increase on tax on a number of essential goods such as fuel and telecommunications in the mid-fiscal policy review by the Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa is rather ill-fated.  The most unfortunate matter is that it is the ordinary citizen, you and I, who will feel the pinch.

The Zimbabwean government has been facing a number of economic challenges and the Minister has taken it upon himself to alleviate the problems of the nation through the ordinary citizen’s pocket. Rather than addressing the underlying economic issues which led to such an economic situation, the government has chosen to focus on heavy taxation in various sectors of the economy.

The minister alluded that the import duty is set to be increased from zero percent to 40% with effect from 1 November 2014. This is especially disturbing as it comes at a time when plans to phase out public commuter omnibuses (kombis) are on the cards.  This move has implications on transport fares for individuals who do not own personal cars. The consequences of increased taxes are far reaching on the entire economy of Zimbabwe. Increased fuel costs will translate to prices of all products increasing on the market. Many young women in Zimbabwe rely on cross-border trading as a means of sustainable living and the increase of consumer goods such as cooking oil, maize-meal, poultry, soap, beverages and flour. The budget has adverse implications, in that more families will go hungry and children kicked out of school as many mothers will be unable to foot the bills due to increased costs of the transportation, and generally high cost of living. Zimbabwe’s economy largely relies on road transport to ferry both goods and people from one point to another. Even the produce by young women from their subsistence farming requires transport to the major markets such as Bindura, Harare and many others in the country’s towns and cities.

Furthermore, increased fuel costs have a bearing on production costs which affects young women who have engaged in entrepreneurial projects such as market gardening, poultry projects and vending. Also to note is the telecommunications sector which is currently worth an estimated $1, 4 billion and has created employment for a number of young Zimbabweans both in the formal and informal sector. A number of young women who are not privileged to have received education to allow them to work in the formal sector have resorted to selling airtime recharge cards. The implications of increased tax in this sector is that consumers are likely to talk for less and as such this has negative implications on the profit margin for the vendor.

Despite the minister’s mention of having a substantial amount of money  for subsistence farmers in the country (mostly in rural areas and farming communities), there is very little good news for them given what the policy review outlined other than the promise that the government is currently putting measures to ensure that it will provide farming inputs for the 2014/15 agricultural season.  Young women feel that they are being duped with mere promises as evidenced in the past.

IYWD notes with grave concern how the government seems to be focusing solely on getting money in their fiscal coffers which have since run dry rather than the implications on the ordinary young woman of Zimbabwe. A large percentage of these young women are dependent on the informal sector for their sustenance and it is rather unfortunate that the mid-fiscal policy review seems to target a large section of the informal sector. Even after expecting some positivity  from the policy which comes two months later  than expected, young women realize that it is BUT an empty basket with nothing to embrace.

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