Treasury in Xmas pledge…$180m monthly for roller meal subsidy…Lines of credit secured for fuel

Government has put in place measures to ensure the festive season cheers will not be dampened by shortage of essential goods including fuel that have previously dogged the economy, says Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.

The minister on Friday said his ministry had particularly targeted fuel and food, which he said were critical for the festive season and going forward.

There were fears that the Christmas cheer could be extinguished by shortages of food, beverages and fuel and as of Friday and Saturday many motorists were jostling for petrol or diesel

However, in an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, Minister Ncube said Government was alive to the needs of the people and measures had been put in place to ensure that they were cushioned.

Without giving exact figures of how much had been secured, the minister said Government had obtained lines of credit for the purchase of fuel to take the country through the festive season and beyond.

He said queues that remained a feature at most service stations could be a function of consumers’ penchant for topping up in anticipation of shortages.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that there is more fuel. You know we import the product so we will be allocating as much foreign currency as we can through the lines of credit,” said Minister Ncube.

“Of course, the queues are long but you know what is happening with the queues as well. Everyone gets afraid and then they queue even if they don’t have to, to make sure that their three or two cars have fuel so there is a sharp increase in demand for fuel.

“But we are doing everything we can to make sure that this is dealt with. If you look at the issues around food, again we have put in lines of credit or borrowings to make sure that we have enough supplies going forward.

“So we are alive to this and we are doing everything as Government to make sure that basic commodities are available at the right prices,” he said.

Minister Ncube said Government was confident 2020 was going to be a much better year for the citizenry following the end of austerity measures, which saw Treasury managing to arrest the budget deficit.

The minister hoped Zimbabwe would have a good rainy season and with inputs from the Presidential Input Support Scheme having been distributed, the country will have a better yield compared to the 2018/2019 farming season.

Consumer basket

“We have said that austerity is over in terms of the policies we were implementing to deal with fiscal adjustments. We have done quite a bit,” said the minister.

“Our budget deficit is now under control. Government finances are sound. We now have the strength to finance growth and productivity and the 2020 Budget is focusing on that, so gradually, there is going to be an improvement.

“We are all praying for a good rainy season, that’s very important, we know farmers have started plantng . . . also pleased that the inputs for the Presidential inputs programme have been disbursed on time,” he said.

On the roller meal subsidy, Minister Ncube said Government was targeting to spend $180 million per month and that there were plans to include other essential commodities in the subsidies  basket.

He, however, said that the subsidies will not be a permanent feature of the economy, but will be reviewed as and when necessary.

According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), some of the commodities in the consumer basket are mealie meal, cooking oil, bread, detergents, margarine, meat, clothing and entals.

Source – Sunday Mail

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