Professor Mthuli Ncube

AUSTERITY measures introduced by Government are helping Treasury to significantly narrow its budget deficit, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.

Government has introduced various austerity measures including salary cuts for the executive and buying executive vehicles locally.

Prof Ncube said Treasury had saved quite a lot of money, following the introduction of austerity measures, which are critical in transforming the economy.

“We’ve saved quite a lot. In the last few months we’ve been able to balance our budget and this is a first in a long time. We’ve not issued any new Treasury bills or debts and that’s what we mean by austerity. It’s having an impact.

“We’re pleased with this development and we’ll continue to restructure the civil service,” said Prof Ncube in an interview.

He said so far Government had not authorised the purchase of new vehicles for ministers and Members of Parliament as part of its austerity measures to reduce expenses.

He said even after increasing allowances for the Government workers, they were in line to narrow the budget deficit.

“Ministers are using borrowed cars either from parastatals or other government departments. This also applied to Members of Parliament. We’ve all said as ministers and MPs we should meet the people of Zimbabwe halfway and show that we sympathise with them as we go through this reform agenda.

“The situation will get better over time but for now things have to be the way they are. In terms of civil servants we did realise that the sharp increase in prices needed a response and we decided to cushion them between January and March,” said Prof Ncube.

He said Government is still negotiating a wage increase for civil servants from April onwards.

“We know that this has to happen but it doesn’t mean that we’ve abandoned austerity, we know our numbers, trust me. Our budget is still balancing even after making those adjustments.

“We’ll accommodate civil servants but we’ll still make sure that our ratios are consistent with the objective of having a budget deficit of five percent GDP by year end. So we’re on course,” said Prof Ncube.

He implored members of the public to be patient and give the austerity measures a chance, saying he was optimistic that they will go a long way in stabilising the economy.