Home » Business » Biting the Proverbial Hand [column]

Budget time is a silly season, it is bonanza time for those who thrive on critiquing yet are devoid of substance when the time to craft solutions comes. Economists and pseudo economists alike jostle for space to demonstrate their perceived prowess in managing national coffers in the hope of convincing us of capability to outdo the sitting Minister. The 2014 silly season was however uncharacteristically slow coming as it did on the eve of Zanu PF’s watershed congress that took the va-va-voom of yesteryear.

Analytical minds chose to pay attention to congress, and justifiably so given the relevance of the gathering to the future of the nation than what the Minister could do with half full coffers. The few that cared to comment were largely clueless, showing glaring gaps in policy awareness and in some instances a total dearth of substance.

Critiques, the mainstay of cowards with no bravery to concoct own solutions appear an easy avenue to fill pages, but one that I must say is littered with landmines of all shapes and sizes.

This silly season presented one that I just could not let go, even time failed in wearing the urge for one more rant.

The naivety of it and shallowness of thought is really mind boggling one cannot be faulted for speculating that there could be more than what meets the eyes.

I am not normally one to give a second chance to boring writers, but in the face of silence from economic colossuses, I found myself quenching my thirst with one Ritesh Arnand’s article published in the independent of December the 5th.

Either this guy has no friends at all or he just doesn’t listen. By now surely someone should have told him he risks exposing himself.

In just his first paragraph, the author accused Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa of failing to consult key stakeholders, being clueless of challenges facing the nation and as such failed to address them and presenting a disappointing budget.

Nothing wrong in stating one’s views even in such g words, if anything, this all is pub talk these days.

But, to then put it in black and white is another thing, and when a supposedly qualified economist and director at key government institutions writes it, this takes a totally different twist.

When someone of such stature makes such serious accusations as regards a serving minister, common sense demands that evidence ought to be produced to support the same least this becomes just but a cold blooded malicious attack.

Having read that article to its end and finding no shred of evidence I was left to ponder as to the real intentions of the author. We live in dangerous times one needs not leave room for speculation as to which basket they are helping weave.

But that’s beside the point, why someone goes all out in attack of a minister who directly determines his keep is what I just could not get.

Having recently landed a post as a director ZAMCO, an arm of the RBZ and a key institution within the Ministry of Finance, one wonders where the author finds the nerve of making such unjustifiable accusations against his boss.

Are his thoughts the expressions of the thinking at the RBZ? The central bank made him a director for a reason and made a hullaballoo about it, certainly because they believed in what he could add to the organisation.

Is this the kind of counsel that the RBZ governor calls on where pub talk becomes fact and needs no rational thought behind it before it’s put down as policy?

I ponder, not because I mean any malice, but, like I said we live in dangerous times, these days one needs to think carefully what their subordinates are thinking of them. I am just saying!

Secondly, being a director at AfrAsia, a bank whose continued existence is a sure show of benevolence on the part of the same minister, one is not in the wrong to wonder whether this is the thank you that the bank sees befitting the minister’s actions.

Has the author given any thought about it before putting pen to paper? I believe not and I am even sure the board never saw it fit to sit down one of their own and point to the obvious. At the end of the day, it is what it is, when patronage earns you a board seat than the substance and deficit of tact strikes, all the board can do is hope and pray that no one notices unfortunately I have a loud moth!

The author also founded a company that has huge ambition in the field of finance whose operations are licensed and supervised by the same minister.

Prudence states that you leave it to the Robertsons of this world to make such g statements, while the entrepreneur sticks to managing what the economic environment prescribes.

But alas, this genius of ours chose to pull the rug from under his licenser, making callous and senseless attack on Minister Chinamasa when he earns his keep largely from activities permitted by the same person.

Whichever way one looks at it, this is a fatal flaw in one’s thought process, its naivety of the highest order.

As if that was not enough, to choose a newspaper from a stable that chose the losing side in Zanu PF’s factional wars for the purposes of attacking a minister of the opposing faction is just rich.

I could labour this point more, but before signing off, a look at the contents of the article will help bring my point home. I stated JC level English and sub A-level arguments, proof is needed least I as well attack for no reason.

A collation of figures that are in a public domain is no analysis, it is simply stating differently what we know.

Value is added when one states what the 3,2 percent in GDP implies to my life, 300 words of stating missed GDP figures, deposit levels and Non-Performing Loans levels is a waste of space.

Everyone knows what they are, if you want something to write about, tell us what NPLs of above 20 percent means to banking institutions – that is what an analytical column should look like. If I may quote verbatim “. . . Of the US$4,1 billion budget, almost 81 percent (and soon 92 percent) is allocated to recurrent expenditure leaving very little for capital expenditure.”

Government needs to dramatically cut consumptive expenditure such as wages and divert funds to capital development. Capital expenditure will boost economic activity and create more jobs.

Call me a hater, but I believe even with economics 101, one can tell you that this is bookish and not alive to the Zimbabwean dynamics.

We need insights, an application of one’s mental strength in crafting a recommendation that can bring relief to our suffering.

Cutting expenditure won’t enlarge the cake it is the size of the cake that matters, not how it’s allocated – dare me and I will hook you up with a thousand facts why this is so.

Yvonne Murwira is a financial markets analyst who writes in her personal capacity.

Source : The Herald

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