VERY interesting revelations are coming out of this year’s pre-budget seminar.
First, we heard that our soldiers are starving and have no uniforms and accommodation. Now we hear from the office of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga that the Health ministry, which he also heads, did not receive the bulk of what it was allocated in the 2022 national budget.
Chiwenga tells us that the 2022 annual budget for medicines was $15 billion and that only $5 billion was released. The ministry was allocated $18 billion for infrastructure, however, only 2,8 billion was disbursed. For contraceptives, government provided funding amounting to $687 million and the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council procured contraceptives worth US$1,5 million.
So, what exactly is happening here?
When Treasury sits down to formulate the national budget, it looks at available resources and allocates them as best as it can to all ministries, government departments and parastatals. In other words, what was allocated to the Health ministry should have been disbursed as is and so it comes somewhat as a shock that VP Chiwenga’s ministry received peanuts.
This leads us to the question: So, what happened to the rest of the funds that were allocated to the Health ministry, but never reached it? This trend, it appears, is rampant.
It is even more dumbfounding that despite the Health ministry, and undoubtedly many other ministries, having received droplets of what was allocated, Treasury in August presented its mid-term fiscal review which included a supplementary budget.
Treasury requested additional spending of $929,3 billion on top of the initially approved 2022 budget of $968,3 billion to bring the total to $1,9 trillion.
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It does not take rocket science to tell that something is grossly wrong here.
Does this mean that Treasury is budgeting for resources that are non-existent or the money might be there, but is being diverted elsewhere, resulting in the crisis we now see in the Health ministry and others?
This should deeply worry us, unfortunately, for decades this has been the trend whereby ministries, government departments and parastatals receive less than 10% of their allocations and Zimbabwe continues to sink more and more into economic abyss.
And why are the ministries ever so quiet about this? Why do they never raise hell each time they are short-changed by Treasury, only to wait for another pre-budget seminar to whinge over poor funding from Treasury?
Worse still, most of the little money that reaches the ministries from Treasury is hardly traceable given the shambolic state of the ministries’ financial books. Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has talked herself hoarse over this, but nothing has changed. Things seem to be getting worse, and more catastrophic.
It is very embarrassing, to say the least, that our national budgets have turned out to be mere window dressing. Our budgets are now best-selling acts of fiction. It is about time we demand more accountability and plausible explanations as to what exactly is happening to the bulk of the budgeted funds that never reach their intended destinations.
We demand answers from Treasury.