Zim public finances in bad shape: Zimcodd

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

ZIMBABWE’S public finance management is characterised by growing fiscal leakages, lack of transparency, accountability and continuous violation of legal and constitutional provisions, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has said.

In its concept paper presented at a Public Finance Management (PFM) Reform Indaba in Bulawayo last week, Zimcodd said Zimbabwe was performing badly when it came to public finances.

“As a result, the country is grappling with the huge budget and current account deficits, declining economic growth rate and unsustainable domestic and external debt. This is despite the fact that the country is endowed with abundant valuable mineral resources,” it said.

“Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth has not translated into improved standard of living for the majority of the citizens. Both revenue collection and utilisation is marred in secrecy.”

The organisation said the basic principles of public finance management enshrined in Section 298(1) of the Constitution that must guide all aspects of public
finance management in Zimbabwe, particularly on transparency and accountability, have not been fully embraced in legal and institutional frameworks of public finance management.

“Zimcodd is convinced that by strengthening pillars of transparency and accountability in the broad PFM framework, fiscal leakages will be minimised leading to increased social spending and investment,” it said.

Zimcodd said public finance management was not just a prerogative of the Finance and Economic Development ministry and as such lower structures of government at provincial and district level become more relevant in shaping the policy and legislative reforms, especially at a time when the government is pursuing the implementation of Chapter 14 of the Constitution with regard to devolution of power and responsibilities to lower tiers of government in Zimbabwe.

The Public Finance management Act of 2009 was devoid of devolution as a vehicle for promoting the democratic participation in government by all citizens and communities of Zimbabwe, the report further noted.

While Section 299 (1) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to exercise oversight and monitoring of State revenues and expenditure by the State and all commissions and institutions and agencies of government at every level, including statutory bodies, government-controlled entities, provincial and metropolitan
councils and local authorities, the Public Finance Management Act was limited in terms of scope on obligations relating to provincial and metropolitan councils
and local authorities.

“This has partly impacted on the implementation of the findings of the Auditor-General’s report which has implicated several local authorities in mismanagement of public finances and poor service delivery in city councils, town councils and rural district councils,” Zimcodd said.

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