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Paltry Budgetary Allocations Worry Parliamentarians

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa meeting with African Development Bank officials in Harare. (VOA)
Parliament resumed sitting Tuesday with portfolio committee chairpersons warning government ministries and departments will fail to deliver this year due to the paltry allocations set aside for them in the 2014 budget announced in December by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

So bad is the situation that some departments such as the Small to Medium Scale Enterprises Ministry got about 10 percent of the $83 million dollars they had asked for from the government.

Health and child care portfolio committee chairperson Dr. Ruth Labode said the situation is dire in the health ministry where all hospitals in the country were allocated only $23 million against a $36 million debt.

She said the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm), which was created to provide affordable drugs to government hospitals, is owed more than $12 million by the health ministry yet it was allocated only $2 million in the 2014 budget.

She added that 90 percent of drugs distributed by NatPharm were sourced from donors with two percent coming from the National AIDS Council.

Labode said her committee was also worried by the disparity in the allocation of resources between Harare and Parirenyatwa Hospitals. Harare was allocated $1 million when it catered for more people than Parirenyatwa Hospital, which, if approved, will receive $5 million in the 2014 budget.

Also worrying, she said, is the fact that Parirenyatwa collected more than $6 million in user fees last year but this was not reflected in Chinamasa’s budget statement.

Finance and economic development portfolio committee chairperson, David Chapfika, commended the finance ministry for coming up with various interventions aimed at improving the country’s ailing economy. He said the government must walk the talk to ensure the economy is revived.

He added all must be done to ensure transparency and accountability in the mining and selling of diamonds in the country. This, said Chapfika, would improve the country’s revenue base.

Chapfika said his committee was concerned by the failure of local banks to dispense cash, adding the government should put in place measures to ensure depositors are protected.

Debate on the 2014 budget continues tomorrow.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa presented the $4.1 billion budget proposal in December, representing half of the total bids from government ministries.