LEGISLATORS have bemoaned the erratic release of budgetary funds by Treasury to line ministries and government departments, saying this has compromised the credibility of the national budget.
This comes after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube presented a ZW$927 billion budget for the year 2022 at a time some ministries and government departments are yet to receive budget funds allotted to them in the 2021 budget.
To date, Parliament has received only 33% of its budgetary allocation; the ministry of Industry and Commerce 32%; Foreign Affairs 31%; Environment 38%; Youth 40%; Housing 17%; devolution 32%; audit 30% and ICT 28% of the amount allocated to them in the 2021 National Budget.
Speaking during a post-budget seminar held on Monday, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Thokozani Khupe, expressed frustration at the manner in which Treasury was releasing the national budget funds, dismissing reports that ministries and departments were failing to fully utilise funds.
“We want to come back to the issue where Parliament, ministries included, were allocated resources and they could not utilise everything. For instance, it is said that Parliament only utilised 33% of the budget, yet they received 100%; it’s not true. The truth of the matter is that monies are not allocated on time to ministries, including Parliament, there is a situation where MPs could not be accommodated because the monies could not be paid, there is a situation when allowances could not be paid, there is a situation where programmes were cancelled,” Khupe said.
Chegutu East legislator Webster Shamhu echoed Khupe’s sentiments, saying some agricultural projects had failed to see the light of day due to failure by Treasury to disburse funds on time.
“Honourable chairman, I want to endorse the presentation made by Honourable Khupe with regards to the release of funds; we have many examples and I’ll give just two. We have an irrigation scheme called Riversday and another one called the Abangu; these have not seen the light of day for more than 4/5 years with no funds released and yet we are talking of the need to increase production in agriculture, which is the backbone of our economy. We cannot talk of funds not being used when funds have never been made available,” Shamhu said.
Economist Gift Mugano expressed concern that other ministries and departments such as the Public Service Commission got 104% of their 2021 national budget allocation, while the ministry of Defence and War Veterans, as well as the ministry of Finance and Economic Development got 114% and 123% of their allocations respectively.
He questioned how ministries with surpluses would account for the extra funds and how those with deficits would have performed by 31 December.
Director of Parliament’s budget office Pepukai Chivore said public confidence had plunged due to failure to deliver on budgetary promises.
“Repeated deviation from the promised roadmap diminishes public confidence in the stewardship of resources,” Chivore said.
Legislators threatened to derail the passing of the budget and to use their oversight role powers to ensure that Treasury sticks to its national budget promises.