With the National Assembly and the Senate looking to take up the Budget 2020-2021, all eyes are on the government and the deci- sions it will make at a time when the country and the world at large are beset by problems. Most of these issues stem from the COVID-19 pandemic and unsurprisingly, the early reports of the major points in the budget indicate that this will be the prime focus moving forward. The gov- ernment is not looking to add any additional taxes in the next year’s bud- get, and the prime focus will be on providing targeted subsidies to allow for industries to continue, and hopefully, keep as many employees work- ing for as long as possible.

However, worryingly, a big stumbling block against any relief measures by the government in the budget will be the fact that interest payments of loans will not be decreased over the next year. Experts estimates that even with the government’s good intentions and the measures taken, 3 million jobs will be lost as a result of the pandemic. This means that the state might need to provide more cushion to the unemployed and those below the poverty line.

This is easier said than done though, as the ‘business as usual’ approach across the world looks to have been espoused by the IMF as well. The inter- national lender has already proposed that the government decrease expen- diture by freezing salaries and slashing the defence budget. Both these sug- gestions are not acceptable, nor are they grounded in reality. Does the IMF really expect people to survive for an entire year without receiving salaries? More rational solutions must be provided. There are also indicators that once the pandemic is over, utility prices are going to see yet another increase.

The government must continue pushing lending bodies to remember that developing countries need to be supported to prevent this pandemic from leaving any lasting effects. More details of the budget are yet to come out, but from the initial reports, it looks to be yet another year where the government will just be putting out fires. It is hoped that the damage is kept to a minimum.