The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance will meet next month to map the pre-budget consultations, an official has said.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
“We are starting next month. I am in a meeting in Parliament, call me tomorrow morning for exact dates,” committee’s chairperson, David Chapfika said.
Committee member, Eddie Cross confirmed the committee will meet today to decide on the exact dates.
“We meet this week on Thursday to decide — when they (consultations) take place, it will be all provincial capitals plus selected smaller towns and rural districts — 20 locations in all,” he said.
The meetings are a constitutional requirement provided for under section 28(5) of the Public Finance Management Act, which allows for independent organisations and members of the public to submit their verbal and written contributions on what they wish to be included in the national budget for the coming year.
While most of these consultations have been marred by poor attendance and have been dismissed as waste of resources, Cross said a review done last year showed that most of raised issues were incorporated in the final budget.
“We did a careful review last year and found that most of the serious issues raised were incorporated or considered. We were quite pleased with the outcome and felt that the minister was listening and considering all points raised — it is not always like that,” he said.
Cross said to such meetings most of the time, the public do not pay enough attention, but last year, the committee hosted a well-attended meeting at a rural business centre in Manicaland.
“We are normally two teams of six or seven persons — it takes a week in a bus and probably costs around $50 000,” he added.
Traditionally the final budget presentation is done November and the budget presentation this year will be unique, as all eyes will be on Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, as to how he will mobilise resources for the 2018 harmonised elections.
By the end of 2016, the government had a budget overrun of $902,2 million on the back of huge employment costs and agriculture recovery that were largely not planned for in the annual budget.