BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE National Housing and Social Amenities ministry has expressed concern over the low allocation in the 2021 budget which it says will hinder the ministry’s ability to effectively deliver on its mandate.
The ministry is responsible for the promotion and facilitation of urban and rural development through the provision of modern and affordable housing and social amenities.
National Housing minister Daniel Garwe recently told NewsDay that his ministry was targeting to build more than 200 000 houses in the coming years.
However, a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, which was presented recently in the National Assembly by its chairperson Miriam Chikukwa (Zanu PF Proportional Representation), said after the National Housing and Social Amenities ministry submitted a bid of $547,7 million, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube only allocated it $80,2 million which was way below their requirements.
“Given that the ministry is new, there is need for office equipment, furniture and fittings, as well as vehicles at head office, at both the provincial and district levels. Unfortunately, the allocations made towards these expenditure lines are glaringly way below the bids,” Chikukwa said.
“A case in point pertains to vehicles. The permanent secretary and five directors have no cars, and depend on hiring vehicles, which is proving too costly.
“Out of a requirement of 70 vehicles, the ministry only has 13 old vehicles, five of which are non-runners. Such a scenario severely undermines the effective administration and discharge of the ministry’s mandate at all levels.”
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She said the ministry had deemed it prudent to first complete stalled projects around the country before considering new ones.
“The projects need a minimum of US$239,1 million, that is $20,3 billion for completion using a phased approach over four to nine years. However, for the 2021 budget, the Treasury allocated only 39,6% of the $3,5 billion ministry bid. At this pace, most of these projects will remain unfinished,” the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government chairperson said.
Chikukwa said Ncube allocated the ministry 6% of the required $106,3 million for the phased construction of 500 housing units for the distressed Chimanimani Cyclone Idai victims.
She said that was a worrying situation given the torn tents and temporary structures in which the victims were currently living.
“No allocations were made towards the recapitalisation of the National Housing Fund and the National Guarantee Fund which are critical in the financing of housing construction, especially for the civil servants,” she said.
“The allocated funds will not be sufficient for the ministry to provide the requisite off-site infrastructure (sewage and water reticulation systems) which are critical for the regularisation or sanitisation of various informal settlements which have cropped up in major cities over the years.”
Chikukwa recommended that the Finance ministry increases the allocation to the Housing ministry towards the acquisition of office equipment and vehicles to enable the setting up of administrative structures at all levels for effective discharge of its mandate.
She said the phased construction of Cyclone Idai victims’ houses should be fully funded.