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Realizing your dreams in the age of austerity

25 Apr 2019 at 08:59hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's 2019 National Budget Statement, which was presented under the theme "Austerity for Prosperity," is generally aimed at correcting the fiscal imbalance that is mainly responsible for high inflation, indebtedness and foreign currency challenges. A quick internet search on the matter revealed that austerity measures are reductions in Government spending, increases in tax revenues, or both normally with the view to correct the performance of an economy.

In the case of Zimbabwe, the austerity measures have more to do with reduction of Government spending than revenue generation through raising tax. The good thing about reducing Government spending is that it will lead to reduced budget deficits, thereby giving investors greater confidence in the long-term performance of the economy. Relatedly, when Government spending as a percentage of GDP has grown too high, it leads to an increase in interest rates, which discourages private investment decisions. Thus reducing government spending has potential to encourage private sector investment which leads to employment creation and increase in tax revenue. Lastly, cutting Government spending upholds the morality that governments should not be spending money, they do not have.

However, while it is mainly Government that is undertaking austerity measures, the impact cascades to all citizens. For example, a reduction in Government spending might imply that projects and programmes which were benefiting some sections of society are stopped while an increase in taxes would naturally reduce incomes. The question is - how can an ordinary Zimbabwean survive and thrive under the age of austerity? To begin with, since there are generally less jobs to go around during periods of austerity, it is wise to use this time to further one's education. Get a degree or acquire a skilled trade. This ensures that one is competitive in the new economic order that is likely to prevail after the austerity. More than ever before, education is the armor which one needs to survive in the current and future job markets. Those who go for skilled trades are at an advantage as they can immediately start their own small businesses or sole trading ventures in electrics, plumbing and motor mechanics, just to mention a few.

If you're a young person struggling to start your career after attaining, say, a degree, there are several things you can do to improve your chances. In some fields, short-term contract positions or even volunteer jobs can provide a foot in the door. The experience gained through short-term contract positions and volunteer jobs might be insufficient to lend one permanent employment, however, it is better than doing nothing at all. In the same vein, older workers can consider enhancing their professional skills by working on a professional qualification or degree on the side. It also pays to focus on opportunities that might exist within one's existing firm. Information communication technology (ICT) is gaining dominance and is becoming indispensible in the way many business and other activities are carried out. Getting a good handle on ICT also places one in good stead to exploit future opportunities.

To the breadwinners, there is need to find alternative streams of revenue. Beyond making more money, building more than one source of income reduces the risk of being left without any income in the event that you are laid off or one source of income drops. A lot of Zimbabweans are already doing this through activities such as buying items which range from broilers to large items from people's homes or social media sites.

Closely related to the above, there is need for families to start growing their own food - to those that are yet to do so. From an avalanche of advantages of such a venture, the most important is that growing your own food will save your money at the grocery store. Imagine how much money will be saved by urbanites who cultivated maize in the last faming season considering that a 10 kg bag of maize meal is now going for about RTGS$12. Food for thought.

In terms of transport to and from work, the Government has done a lot by introducing the heavily subsidized ZUPCO buses. However, since the buses are still few citizens can practice carpooling which is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one person travels in a car, and prevents the need for others to have to drive to a location themselves. The money one will save from reduced fuel usage is one of the best reasons to carpool.

The techniques one can employ to survive in the age of austerity and come out better equipped to survive in the coming new economic order are endless, which goes on to dispel the notion that violent demonstrations will solve Zimbabwe's problems. The prevailing economic hardships have their roots in the old dispensation and the new Government needs the help of all citizens to solve them.

Source - Mapozho Saruchera
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