By Daniel Chigundu
FINANCE Minister Patrick Chinamasa had to literary buy passage for his 2018 National Budget as legislators had dug-in on their demands for Parliament and health sector.
Parliamentarians were unanimous in their demand for adequate budget for the legislature arguing that the initially allocated US$57 million was not enough to effectively funding their oversight role.
Parliament last year failed to hold public meetings in some areas and had to literary depend on the benevolence of development partners.
However after threatening to sabotage the budget, Minister Chinamasa was left with no choice but to concede and increase the allocation.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Minister Chinamasa said while he understands the mandate of Parliament, there is also need to realise that funds are not available.
“After consultation with Chief-Whips, I want to say from the onset that I understand that Parliament has its mandate but I want you to also understand that resources are not there and the worst thing I don’t want to do is to promise you huge amounts which will not be available.
“I don’t want to lie to you because the money is really not there.
“But after consultations I am very clear that the mandate of Parliament must be discharged and we have agreed that the total figure of the vote should be amended to US$80 million,” he said
The Finance Minister also revealed that with effect from the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe, legislators will no longer be required to pay for their vehicles but will be given for free.
He also added that legislators will also be allowed to import vehicles duty free in the third life of the Parliament to compensate for the wear and tear of their allocated vehicles.
He also increased the health budget from US$408 million to about US$520 million. Ministry of Health had requested a budget of about US$1.1 billion which they say is what is required to effectively delivery quality healthcare in the care.
Despite the increase, Chinamasa has once again failed to meet the Abuja Declaration demands for funding Health sector.
He said treasury is unable to allocate full amounts requested by ministries in their proposals arguing that the cake is too small compared to the demands.
Salaries and wages take up most of the revenue that would have been collected by government, leaving too little for capital projects and other things.
Chinamasa said budget requests in 2018 where about US$25 billion against a US$5.7 billion budget.