28 November 2012

Zimbabwe: MPs Bemoan Paltry Budgetary Allocations

PARLIAMENT resumed sitting yesterday with the House of Assembly members bemoaning the paltry allocations to various Government departments and ministries by the Finance Ministry.

The legislators called for measures to improve the economy's performance and boost revenue generation.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti presented a US$3,8 billion two weeks ago and admitted difficulties in distributing the meagre resources.

In his presentation chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Cde Paddy Zhanda, said it was important that emphasis be placed on other policies to boost the economy.

"Let me thank the minister for trying to navigate through stormy waters but let me say the expectation of this Parliament and the public that the budget is the only instrument to address the challenges we are facing is misplaced.

'The budget is just but one instrument, there are others out there. We should focus on measures to increase the revenue to the state and it is only when we have a budget of over US$10 billion can we start talking of allocations," he said.

Cde Zhanda reiterated that there was a need to protect local industry from cheap imports and finance farmers properly.

He urged Government to come up with a holistic contract farming policy.

He also called for the privatisation of loss making parastatals, renewal of dialogue between Government and social partners in labour and the private sector and the re-introduction of the Constituency Development Fund.

He said this was a fairer way of distributing national wealth to Zimbabweans.

Contributing to the debate Uzumba legislator Cde Simba Mudarikwa said the budget had not addressed the plight of the rural populace.

He said GMB had not been provided with adequate resources to pay for grain deliveries while small scale miners had also not been given any reprieve.

"The minister talked of constructing hospitals in rural areas which is commendable but why should we construct them when the vacant posts in the ministry of health are frozen? Who will provide services in those institutions? Most rural people cannot access health care and I urge the minister to unfreeze the posts in rural areas," he said.

MDC-T Makoni West representative Mr Weber Chinyadza echoed similar sentiment and also called on Government to curb cheap imports and cut on foreign travels as part of ways to save money.

He also criticised Minister Biti for under funding parliament saying this would affect its oversight role over the executive.

The debate resumes today.

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