The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube says the country is on the right trajectory in the Covid-19 vaccination programme with Zimbabwe having surpassed the Abuja Declaration target which requires countries to spend at least 15 percent of their national budgets on the health sector.
In his speech at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Business Conference in Bulawayo, Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe was on track with its vaccination programme. He revealed that the country has to date used ZWL$30 billion for the vaccination programme.
“Last year, our budget on health was 20 percent of total expenditure, we have exceeded the Abuja target and if Honourable Ruth Labode is here, she is always asking me in Parliament; ‘Minister when are we going to reach the Abuja target?’ we have exceeded the Abuja target. This year again we will exceed. We want to make sure that it becomes a product of the thing (Covid-19) behind us,” he said.
The Minister said the Covid-19 response measures, coupled with the vaccination exercise, should ensure that the economic recovery momentum is not disturbed. In addition, Prof Ncube said Government kept on monitoring the situation and impact of COVID-19 with a view of taking relevant mitigatory measures such as the 2020 Stimulus package.
“It is my hope that the implementation of NDS1 that commenced this year will not be obstructed by this global pandemic.”
Minister Ncube said Government was utilising budget surplus of US$100 million from the previous year to procure vaccines to save lives and livelihoods. So far, he said over US$127.3 million has been spent on procurement of 12,5 million vaccines and 15 million syringes from various countries.
“The target is to reach 60 percent herd immunity. Government will continue to mobilise additional resources to ensure target population is fully vaccinated.”
The Minister said in addition to resources spent on procurement of vaccines, Government has also spend a more than ZWL$23.8 billion towards the containment of the pandemic as at 20 August in areas such as construction of quarantine centres, Covid-19 allowances, rransportation of vaccines, PPEs, test kits and reagents.
He said in view of the impact of the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund responded by releasing special drawing rights (SDRs) to the tune of US$650 billion.
The Minister indicated that part of the resources would be channelled towards supporting the health, manufacturing, agriculture, and education and mining sectors.
Prof Ncube said: “They (IMF) gave a guidance note but for us luckily the guidance note is exactly what we were thinking in terms of how we are going to use these funds. We have to spend some money supporting the social sector, which is the worst affected by the pandemic and some money acquiring more vaccines. So, some of those funds will be used in buying additional vaccines as well as supporting the health sector.
“We have got six central hospitals, we will revamp all of them, equip all of them. Maybe not every part of the hospital but a critical part using SDRs.”
In terms of the tax incentives, the Minister said businesses and potential investors are encouraged to take advantage of already available tax incentives such as the income tax, corporate income tax, Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOT) and BOT arrangements among others.
He said there were also specific incentives available in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, tourism and transport.
The Conference was hosted by the ZITF company in partnership with the National Economic Consultative Forum under the theme: “Embracing the new normal for business and industry: Realities and Opportunities.”