Patrick Chinamasa. Picture: ANA

Harare ‑ Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, on Thursday, said he would cut government expenses in the new year in line with efforts to grown the country’s economy and streamline costs.

Presenting the US$5.743 billion 2018 national budget in Parliament, Chinamasa said government was working on a raft of changes, among them retiring people in the civil service aged above 65, reducing government official travels, removing first-class flying for government officials, firing 3,739 youth officers and ward development coordinators from 3,530, which he said would save US$1.6 million per month (US$19.3 million per annum) as well as one vehicle per top government official.

“Already, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken the first steps towards a lean government structure by beginning to reduce the size of government by trimming down the number of ministers from 27 to 21, and, in this regard, savings will be realised progressively through identification of redundant staff, as ministries are combined and rationalised,” Chinamasa said.

He said there would be continued efforts to reduce employment costs from the current 86 percent of total revenue to 70 percent.

Other cost-cutting measures include maintaining a high freeze on non-critical skills hiring, closing technically insolvent parastatals, voluntary retirement to reduce government wage bill, reducing foreign missions, reducing foreign travel delegations as well as no first-class flying for government officials except the presidium, ministers, parastatal chief executive officers, ministry heads and equivalent grades, adding disciplinary action would be taken on those in violation.

Chinamasa allocated US$905 million to the primary and secondary education ministry, higher and tertiary education (US$363 million), defence, security and war veterans (US$420 million), lands, agriculture and rural resettlement (US$497 million) and health and child care (US$408 million).

He said government projected US$5.1 billion revenue in 2018, and expenditure of US$5.8 billion, with the budget deficit expected to narrow to US$700 million

“As we focus on recovery of our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past, while we address and reduce the high country risk perception among existing and prospective investors," Chinamasa said.