By Daniel Chigundu
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has dismissed claims that there is fiscal indiscipline in government, adding that some constitutional obligations are to blame for the huge expenditure.
In the last four years government has had problems with ballooning expenditures at a time when revenue collections are not performing to expectations.
Some economists and opposition politicians have been quick to blame fiscal indiscipline and unnecessary spending as the reason for the went-away expenditure.
Speaking recently, Chinamasa said some of the expenditure is through constitutional obligations and he has no control over it.
“The challenge we have is to contain expenditure and a lot of that expenditure sometimes is necessary but of course, we said we have to live within our means. That expenditure is sometimes necessary. Some of it is constitutional and we inherited it through our Constitution.
“We inherited a very large bureaucracy, a very large Parliament, lots of Commissions and provincial entities. All these need to be funded and it is a constitutional obligation.
“When I now seek to fund them, it is called fiscal indiscipline. It is not so. I am merely meeting the constitutional obligation that I have; to meet government expenditure and programs,” he said.
In 2013, Zimbabwe added an additional 60 seats for women in the National Assembly to take the tally for legislators in the country to about 350 combined for both houses.
According to the country’s laws, each Members of Parliament is entitled to a vehicle, fuel allowances and sitting allowances and when they come for Parliament they are booked into hotels which cost the country huge sums of money.
According to Chinamasa about 96.2 percent of government revenue is currently being spent on civil servants wage bill, leaving a measly 2.8 percent for capital projects and other government operations.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has also denied claims that he is borrowing for consumption purposes only, at the expense of capital projects, arguing that he tries to strike a balance between consumption and funding infrastructure projects.
He said the biggest problem in the country at the moment is fiscal deficit which has been exacerbated by the government’s huge bureaucracy, adding that Cabinet has since taken a decision to address some of the challenges.
“In short, I want to say that our problem is fiscal deficit because of huge government bureaucracy over which we have very little control.
“Cabinet has taken a decision by appointing me and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to address the issue of a huge wage bill and we have been taking measures through rationalisation, redeployment and re-training to reduce that deficit.
“We are beginning to observe some savings from the measures that we are undertaking,” he said.