THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs has recommended that government should do away with some embassies irrelevant to the economic and political development of the country to cut down on the ministry’s budgetary costs.
BY SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Committee chair Enock Porusingazi said the committee wanted a leaner foreign service as opposed to the 47 representative offices across the world.
Porusingazi was speaking while presenting a post-budget report by the committee in the National Assembly where the committee disclosed that the ministry was saddled with a $13 million debt.
The country has 40 embassies and five consulates.
“The committee recommends a leaner foreign service which is fully funded as the major challenges at embassies are that most properties are rented and rentals are exorbitant and unsustainable in the long term,” Porusingazi said.
“There is need for strategic realignment of Zimbabwe’s embassies abroad looking at the economic and political interests of the country. Motor vehicles used in most embassies are now high maintenance due to aging, with the embassy in France being the most notable example which is using a vehicle purchased in 1996.”
In an unrelated matter, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Portfolio Committee chaired by Irene Zindi also urged local authorities should source for other revenue generating ventures instead of waiting for budgetary allocations.
Local Authorities were only given $12 million against the $88 million allocated to the whole ministry. Under the new Constitution local authorities were supposed to get $206 million as they were entitled to 5% of the budget.
“The committee observed that while councils were complaining about lack of funds they were ignoring potential sources of revenue generation such as hut, herd, dog, bicycle and land taxes, in addition to the development levy. The committee wonders why councils cannot profitably run beer halls, yet the private players who have taken over are making money out of them,” Zindi said.
Meanwhile, chairperson of the portfolio committee on information communication technology Nelson Chamisa also said the $11,5 million allocated to the ministry was not enough to enable the department to meet some of its objectives such as research on ICTs to narrow the technological gap between rural and urban populations.
He said only $500 000 was allocated towards laptops for legislators and the money was only enough for 166 of them.