BY VENERANDA LANGA
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has been urged to come up with a people-centric 2022 National Budget and move away from past practices where the Defence ministry got the lion’s share at the expense of social services ministries.
This came out during parliamentary public hearings on the 2022 National Budget.
Participants said Ncube should prioritise social services such as health and education to enable the country to meet international budgetary allocation benchmarks such as 15% for health in line with Abuja Declaration and 20% for the education sector.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said given the economic constraints in the country caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, priority should be given to provision of water and sanitation.
This year, Ncube allocated US$65 million of the US$5,14 billion national budget towards social services, which was a measly 1,30%. Zimcodd said social services can no longer be ignored given that a number of people in the country were slipping into extreme poverty.
“Although the situation is expected to ease off in 2021 and 2022, mainly due to better harvests, the slow recovery of job losses will continue to haunt the nation. Citizens have called for more attention to critical areas, and that government should desist from allocating a significant chunk of the national budget to ministries such as Defence as has been the norm, while failing to meet the international budget allocation benchmarks in ministries such as Health and Education, Infrastructure and social services.”
In the previous budget, Treasury dismally failed to offer social safety nets for women, with the Women Affairs ministry getting a paltry 0,512% allocation to cater for 52% of the population in the country, which are women.
In the 2021 budget, the Youth, Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture ministry got a paltry 0,818% allocation (less than 1% of the national budget) and yet the youth constitute 67% of the country’s population.
“It is crucial to reflect over how government will meet both the pressing and immediate demands for improved service delivery while equally putting attention on key economic sectors which should anchor growth and use the gains thereof to reinforce economic resilience going forward.”
Zimcodd said it was worrying that government continued to boast of budget surpluses when citizens were sinking deeper into poverty.
“This extinguishes trust that the budget will ever address fundamental challenges because of government’s inability to accept the current dire economic reality that most of the citizens are living under,” Zimcodd said.
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