ZIMBABWEANS have expressed mixed feelings on the 2021 national budget presented by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in Parliament yesterday, saying it should have been configured in United States dollars as the economy has dollarised.
BY RICHARD MUPONDE/VANESSA GONYE
Ncube presented his budget in Zimbabwe dollars with education getting the largest allocation after it was given $500 billion.
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (independent) said: “The fuel which is used to drive the truck economy is being sold in US dollars yet people are not being paid that money. We should have real money. It is not good for us to just have big numbers without value. The economy has dollarised.”
Miriam Mushonga from Mabvuku added: “The minister (Mthuli) should have presented the budget in US dollars because everything is now being charged in that currency.
“Civil servants should be paid in US dollars. Citizens are being paid in Zimdollars, but have to bear the brunt of using hard currency with their earnings chewed by the cross rate.”
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said the 2021 budget allocation to the health sector was below the level required for the delivery of quality services despite the fact that health has maintained its ranking in the top five ministries in allocation of government funding.
“The Health and Child Care ministry got $54,7 billion which is about 13% (of the budget). But has the allocation increased in real terms if compared to other years?
“While the government has shown signs of prioritising health, the overall level of public spending is still low relative to need. Health, thus, needs to continue to be prioritised and the share of gross domestic product needs to be maintained,” he said.
He, however, noted that the budget allocation for health did not increase in real terms.
Rusike urged the government to make health delivery a top priority if it was to save its health institutions from imminent collapse.
“The state of health services is directly related to the government’s misplaced priorities. Government is not allocating adequate resources to the health sector,” he said.
Rusike hinted on the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic going out of hand should there be no adjustments to the health sector allocation.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education chairperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she was happy with the budget as her brief was given.
“The ministry (Primary and Secondary Education) was given a lot of money. I just hope it is not going to salaries. In the previous budget, all the money went to budget salaries,” she said.
Tafadzwa Chireya from Epworth said he was happy that education was given a priority.
“You see for yourself that the standards of education have gone down, especially because of COVID-19. The amount that has been given to education is good enough to put back the rails of our education system. I just hope the amount is not going to be chewed up by teachers’ salaries,” Chireya said.
Another resident said the budget has a focus on production, especially in mining and agriculture which are the backbone of the country’s economy.
“Much emphasis was given to production in the mining and agricultural sector. These help to kickstart the economic rebound. Zimbabwe’s economy hinges on mining and agriculture,” said Blessing Mlambo of Ushewokunze suburb.