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Mthuli Ncube raises VAT, restores duty on basics – Bulawayo24 News

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube unveiled his 2023 budget on Thursday, raising value added tax (VAT) in a move the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) described as “an attack on working people.”

Ncube presented a Z$4.2 trillion (about US$6.5 billion) budget in Zimbabwe dollars, drawing brickbats from critics who say the government is now collecting a large portion of its taxes in foreign currency, hence the budget should have been presented in United States dollars.

Invoking Plato, Ncube said his budget was anchored on “prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice.” In large part, however, he raised taxes and offered few breaks for taxpayers.

Citing a SADC average of 16 percent VAT, Ncube said: “Zimbabwe charges a comparatively lower rate of 14.5 percent. The VAT rate was reduced from 15 percent with effect from January 1, 2020, in order to support households during the peak period of the Covid-19 pandemic… I propose to reinstate the VAT rate to the previous rate of 15 percent with effect from January 1, 2023.”

Consumers pay VAT when they buy food, pay for water, electricity and other services.

Ncube removed the suspension of duty on basic commodities, a blow to low-income families who are victims of unrelenting price increases as the Zimbabwe dollar weakens.

Early this year, the government suspended duty on commodities such as rice, maize meal, bath soap, cooking oil and maize meal amongst others.

Ncube justified the move by stating that prices had gone down following the stabilisation of the local currency.

“The suspension of duty, which expired on November 16, 2022, will not be extended. The government will, however, monitor prices of basic commodities with a view to ensure responsible pricing and affordability, failure of which the suspension will be reinstated,” he told MPs at the new parliament building in Mt Hampden.

In one of a few give-aways, Ncube said he was reducing the Intermediate Money Transfer Tax (IMTT) on domestic foreign currency transfers from 4 percent to 2 percent – but only because “some entities are now preferring to settle transactions in cash instead of electronic transfers.”

Ncube said he was considering a review of the 20 percent surrender requirement for domestic foreign currency transactions, which forces individuals and companies to give up a portion of their money at the government’s discredited exchange rate, which was 646 to the United States dollar this week and as high as 900 on the parallel market.

Former finance minister Tendai Biti, now deputy leader of the CCC, said Ncube’s projection that the economy would grow by 3.8 percent in 2023 was “ambitious and based on unsound assumptions,” arguing it “ignores the shrinkage of the global economy, the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war and the natural freeze of an election year.”

Ncube said the economy was expected to grow by 4 percent in 2022, a further downward revision from the mid-year projection of 4.6 percent. He blamed “global and domestic developments, particularly the impact of high inflation and resultant stabilisation measures” for the revision.

Biti said Zimbabwe was in the middle of a “structural economic crises characterised by poverty, disequilibrium, high inflation, an exchange rate problem and a total collapse of public services” which had plunged the country into its third “self-induced recession in 20 years.”

Fuelling the crisis, Biti said, was “high borrowing costs, relentless inflation and a squeeze on government payments to contractors.”

“The seismic headwinds required boldness, honesty and brinkmanship, Sadly the budget presented today was a banal self-serving ritual in narcissism and power retention excesses months before the 2023 election,” Biti opined.

Ncube offered no specifics on pay increases for restive civil servants, setting the stage for further confrontations with public sector workers in an election year. He, however, said 52.4 percent of the total expenditure for 2023 would be spent on employment costs, rising from 42.3 percent this year.

“An honest budget ought to have been presented in United States dollars,” said Biti. “After all, more than half of government taxes are now being collected in US$. This would then have allowed civil servants to be paid in US$. This would also have required the government to simply dollarise as the exchange control mess, right at the centre of Zimbabwe’s macroeconomic instability must be resolved by dollarisation, floating of the Zimbabwe dollar, scrapping the forex auction and the gold coin.”

Biti warns the “mess of multiple exchange rates” will continue “with consequent pricing distortions.”

According to Biti, the restoration of duties on basic commodities particularly while approaching a festive season is “equally sadistic and bankrupt” and the imposition of mining royalties to be paid partly in actual minerals “is equally zany.”

“Apart from gold, how does one pay chrome, coal or a PMG as a tax?”

Ncube allocated the highest budget – Z$631.2 billion – to the primary and secondary education ministry as he repeated a promise for free education at primary school level. Health pegged second with a Z$473 billion vote followed by lands and agriculture (Z$362.5 billion) and defence (Z$331 billion).

“The underfunding of the health budget (11 percent) and public education is an indictment,” Biti said. “However, the pumping of huge resources into command agriculture betrays that this is an election year and that the 2023 budget is a power retention agenda. Truth is Ncube and Zanu-PF have failed and the 2023 budget is exhibit A of craft incompetence.”

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Entertainment news

😬 Darren Bent & Andy Goldstein REACT To VAR’s CONTROVERSIAL Decision To Disallow Luis Diaz’s Goal🤔 – talkSPORT

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UMjabulisi The Poet pens poem on umjolo – Chronicle

UMjabulisi The Poet pens poem on umjolo

Mthabisi Tshuma, [email protected]

Fast-rising poet Zwelithini Dlamini, also known as UMjabulisi The Poet, has written a poem that examines the ever-expanding hashtag umjolo, which is short for “dating.”

 The fad has ruled social media streets and actual life for the past couple of years.

 UMjabulisi, who debuted on his digital channels last Thursday, The poet explained that the project—a poetry video—came about as a result of an online inspiration.

 “I came across a video on Facebook of a middle aged guy who was being harassed by the so called umjolo. A spark of inspiration went straight into my mind and then l decided to do a poem about Umjolo

 “I love listening, reciting and writing poems not forgetting the fact that it is a special kind of art that lives deep within my soul l write and speak what l see in my surroundings and beyond,” said UMjabulisi The Poet.

 Regarding his profession, the aspiring poet characterised himself as a modest and diligent young man who is committed, strong, and bold.

 “I view myself as someone who is unshakable as far as poetry is concerned. The passion all started in my Grade 7 final exam where l preferred to write a poem. Poetry was a magnet to me as it found me loitering in the world of art thus I was attracted during the process eventually.

 “I noticed that it was in my veins unknowingly. Growing up my love for poetry grew. Personally l can’t pin point exactly what inspired me as l was inspired by a lot of stuff, class presentations, poets and head boys in my school, Luveve High,” he said.

 UMjabulisi The Poet mentioned that he has a poetry collection called “Sisempini” that was released last year and includes work from accomplished poets including Thaluso Da Poet.

 He has taken part in poetry slams like the Larfage event.


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Entertainment news

In lucky break for NASA’s Psyche asteroid probe, thruster problem discovered and quick fix found – CBS News

Just two weeks before launch, in what amounts to a lucky break, engineers discovered a potentially-crippling problem with thrusters in NASA’s Psyche asteroid probe. Equally fortuitous, the fix was relatively straightforward and launch of the $1.2 billion mission only slipped a week.

“We really found out by weird chance that the data that had come from the subcontractor about these cold gas thrusters was incorrect, and that we had to change our parameters for how we’re going to operate the mission,” Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton said Saturday.

“Nobody likes to slip, and it always looks like ‘oh my God, you’re in trouble.’ But oh, we are so lucky!”

An artist’s impression of the Psyche probe, its solar arrays extended, in orbit around its quarry of the same name, one of only a handful of metallic asteroids yet discovered. It may be core-like material from a planetary building block that was ripped apart in the distant past when two larger bodies collided


Launch from the Kennedy Space Center atop a powerful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is now targeted for 10:16 a.m. EDT on Oct. 12. If all goes well, the spacecraft will reach its quarry in the summer of 2029 after a 2.2-billion-mile voyage, kicking off two years of close-range observations.

Psyche’s target is an unusual asteroid of the same name, one of just seven or eight metal-rich bodies in the rocky belt of debris between Mars and Jupiter. It orbits the sun three times farther out than Earth.

Scientists don’t know what they will find when the spacecraft gets there, but long-range observations indicate the potato-shaped body, measuring 173 miles across at its widest, could be a remnant of core material from a planetary building block known as a planetesimal.

Studying Psyche is expected to shed light on how the solar system’s rocky planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — formed and evolved in the distant past.

The high-profile mission suffered a major delay last year when software development and testing fell behind schedule, in part because of earlier COVID-related policies and work slowdowns. An independent review board also found multiple contributing factors, including poor communications at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and insufficient planning and oversight.

After resolving those issues, the team was back on track for launch on Oct. 5.

But on Sept. 22, two weeks before takeoff, Elkins-Tanton heard about the thruster issue and six days later, after Spaceflight Now reported a one-week slip, NASA confirmed the flight had been delayed to Oct. 12 “to complete verifications of the parameters used to control the Psyche spacecraft’s nitrogen cold gas thrusters.”

The blog post said operating parameters were being adjusted “in response to updated, warmer temperature predictions for these thrusters.” No other details were provided.

The Psyche spacecraft in a clean room near the Kennedy Space Center during final processing for launch.

William Harwood/CBS News

Elkins-Tanton discussed the problem Saturday during a presentation at the Sands Space History Center just outside the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. As far as she’s concerned, the Psyche mission dodged a bullet by discovering the thruster issue before launch, even if it meant a delay.

Quoting Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Laurie Leshin, Elkins-Tanton said “a successful mission is dodging 1,000 bullets, and an unsuccessful one is dodging 999.”

“Thank God, we’ve got this great team and that we found (this problem). And so I have … total gratitude that they found this before we launched. And it was just fortuitous. It’s a good story.”

The issue was discovered during pre-flight tests that showed the settings used to operate the thrusters were incorrect. At the planned 80 percent power level, analysis indicated higher-than-expected temperatures could cause damage.

As it turned out, the fix did not require any hardware or software changes. Just an updated table of parameters used by the probe’s flight computer, instructing it to fire the thrusters at what amounts to a lower power level. Maneuvers will take longer to complete, but that will not affect the mission.

“Right after separation from the rocket, one of the things we need to do after we extend the solar arrays is turn to face Earth,” Elkins-Tanton said. “And that turning is accomplished by firing the cold gas thrusters, of which we have 12.

“In order to keep the temperature low enough … we have to do it at 30 percent duty cycle instead,” she said. “The reason we need that extra week is just to make certain that that doesn’t have some downstream effect that we would need to take care of.”

Asked what might have happened had Psyche been launched “as is,” Elkins-Tanton said the higher temperatures “would probably damage the thruster. It could have had a real mission impact. Thank God, we’ve got 12 of them.”

By catching the problem before launch, the team could “analyze it so that we really understand everything about it and what all the nearby thermal sensors will be measuring and how they relate to the temperature in the thruster and everything else.”

“If this happened during initial checkout, there’s a lot on people’s minds, it’d be much harder to understand it to this level. So (the delay is) really good.”

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