THE Ministry of Agriculture incurred an over expenditure of more than $3 million due to employment costs caused by excess staff awaiting redeployment after government embarked on a staff rationalisation programme.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Presenting their 2018 national budget bid before the Christopher Chitindi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture recently in Parliament, acting secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Reston Muzamindo told MPs that Treasury would only be able to avail $406 million to the ministry against a bid of $2 billion which they presented.
“It must be noted that over expenditure of $3 164 184 was incurred under employment costs caused by excess staff which was still in some departments awaiting redeployment under the staff rationalisation programme,” Muzamindo said.
“Treasury availed allocation for 2018 amounting to $406 984 against a budget requirement of $2 billion, and that translates to 10% of the national budget to the agricultural sector,” he said.
African Union governments stipulate that at least 10% of the national budget must be allocated towards agriculture in order to achieve 6% annual growth rates.
Muzamindo said of the $406 million to be availed to his ministry in 2018, 18% of the amount will be gobbled by employment costs, while 78,8% will be capital expenditure, leaving only 4% for goods and services, maintenance and agricultural services.
In the 2017 budget, the ministry was allocated $347 780 512, but only $130 532 510 had been released as of September, which constitutes 39% of the budget.
“Grain Marketing Board was allocated $67 million in order for it to pay farmers to be effective and efficient during the season. The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) was allocated $80 million against a bid of $470 million,” he said.
The committee was told that so far over $7,4 million had been collected under the Tobacco Levy and was distributed to the Tobacco Research Board ($3, 32 million), the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board ($2,954 million), the Farmers’ Development Trust ($45 000), Plant Quarantine ($180 000), Agritex ($180 000), and $152 000 which was used for administration expenses and $125 000 financial charges.