BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has accused the government of ignorance on the impact of the arts sector as shown by under-funding in the proposed 2021 National Budget.
This was exposed by the chairperson of the committee, Mathias Tongofa, who is the Member of Parliament for Chivi North (Zanu PF), in the National Assembly last week in contribution to debate on the Finance Bill.
Government has come under criticism for failing to bankroll the arts sector and missing the opportunity to turn it into a multi-million-dollar industry.
Tongofa said the whole ministry, that incorporated sports, arts and culture, was not adequately funded, as it got a paltry $3,497 billion instead of the proposed $22,028 billion.
The budget allocation is directed towards policy and administration, youth development and empowerment, sports and recreation promotion and development, and arts and culture promotion and development.
“The 9% of the ministry’s budget allocated to the arts and culture promotion and development programme shows that Treasury may not fully appreciate the importance of arts and culture,” he said.
Tongofa said the ministry needed to do more to promote arts and culture and ensure that its impact is appreciated.
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“As an example, the ministry’s bid for the creation of Cultural and Creative Industries Strategy (CCIS) national database was $40 million against an allocation of only $1,5 million. No meaningful progress can be made in the development of this database and this will compromise the development of the cultural and creative industry sector,” he said.
“The total shortfall of the budget’s $18,4 billion is huge and this will incapacitate the ministry to fully implement its projects.”
Tongofa said the ministry should actively engage its Finance and Economic Development counterparts and make them appreciate the impact of its programmes.
“The engagement must be aimed at showcasing the ministry’s programmes on the ground and highlighting their impact on national socio-economic development and contribution towards the attainment of vision 2030,” he said.
“The budget allocations should be in line with the budget statement and should prioritise issues that have been identified as important in the statement. This mismatch of budget allocations sets out the ministry for failure in implementation from the onset due to inadequacy of resources.”
Tongofa said the committee observed that although the budget had attempted to allocate some resources towards all the ministry’s requirements, the funds were mostly insufficient to cover the budget items and would result in incomplete projects.
“As such the committee recommends that the projects should be prioritised and ensure that some are taken to completion within the budget year. However, there is a need to balance this with ensuring equitable distribution of resources across the entire country, taking into consideration the fact that other areas may have more need than others,” he said.
Tongofa, however, said in the 2021 budget, the government recognised the importance of building the necessary environment, infrastructure and relationships for developing youths, sport, arts, recreation and diversity of culture.
“Government launched the Cultural and Creative Industries Strategy 2020-30 (CCIS) which is a roadmap that guides the development and growth of the cultural and creative industry sector,” he said.
He said among the strategies to be pursued by the ministry in carrying out its function and delivering in its mandate include, establishment and equipping new cultural and creative centres and rehabilitation of existing ones and build research and documentation capabilities and capacities for arts, culture and heritage. Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto