Parly summons Finance Minister on economy
Harare, (New Ziana) – Parliament on Wednesday resolved to summon Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube to update the nation on the deteriorating state of the economy, characterized by shortages of basic goods and sharply escalating prices.
Issues around the instability of the local currency, refusal by some retailers of some bank notes and price increases dominated debate in the legislature during Wednesday’s Question and Answer session.
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda told the House the Finance Minister will have to address the nation on what is being done to improve the economy after a proposal from independent legislator, Temba Mliswa that all other debates on matters unrelated to the economy be suspended.
“The economy is the real cornerstone of any country. The Bills (we debate here) do not mean anything unless the economy is intact. I would therefore implore your good office to at least adjourn every debate until we talk about the economy of the country from pricing to the currency itself because that is what keeps us going,” Mliswa said to applause.
“The economy is what sustains us as a nation. We should talk about the economy so that we get the full answers.”
The Norton legislator said all ministers that have portfolios directly linked to the performance of the economy must get the legislature to understand what they were doing to improve the situation.
And in response, Mudenda said, “The issue of the addressing the economy rests primarily with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and we may have to ask the Honourable Minister (Ncube) to come and make a ministerial statement on the state of the economy and then we will debate accordingly.”
Amid the Covid-19 lockdown, Zimbabweans have had to endure a sharp spike in the cost of living, and shortages of some essential goods, including sugar and mealie meal.
An appeal by government to businesses to exercise restraint in pricing fell on deaf ears, with businesses arguing they were hedging against rising inflation.
With inflation nearly at 800 percent and rising, the poverty datum line has also risen sharply in tandem, and is now pegged at $7 420 for a family of five.
The country has also been plagued by acute fuel shortages that are threatening to grind business to a halt.