By Mary Taruvinga
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube has allocated the second biggest chunk of his 2020 budget to health proposing a $6, 5 billion vote to the struggling sector.
This comes at a time the country’s health sector is crippled following the downing of tools by doctors and nurses with nearly 300 doctors having been fired over this industrial action.
Council nurses have also joined the go-slow leaving thousands of patients to die unattended in hospitals dotted across the country.
Presenting his 2020 budget, Ncube said there was need for concerted efforts in improving the health delivery system also noting that the country has managed to make notable achievements despite the prevailing constraints.
“Transmission of HIV (PMTCT), rate has fallen from above 30 to 5.7, among other achievements. Such achievements have empowered the government to lobby for additional support from various bilateral and multilateral sources such as the Global Fund,” said the Finance Minister.
He added: “To consolidate our achievements in health care, I am allocating $6.5 billion to the sector. This will cater for health infrastructure, personnel welfare, medicines, drugs, and sundries, among other essential hospital equipment and necessities.”
The Defence ministry, which has traditionally received the highest allocation, was this year given $3, 11 billion.
“Security services remain an integral part in ensuring a peaceful and stable socio economic environment in our nation, hence the need to ensure that our security services are fully funded to enable them to discharge their constitutional mandate,” said Ncube.
But it was the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry that got the biggest vote of the budget with $8, 5 billion.
The country’s energy sector has also been failing to meet demand with the majority of consumers going for over fifteen hours without power.
Ncube said the situation is likely to improve on the back of private investments. Among other notable beneficiaries were Agriculture $1, 9 billion and under this, irrigation programmes will get $422,7 million; veterinary $521,8 million; farmer compensation, $380 million; crop and livestock research and technology will get $176,6 million while land survey and mapping will get $63,5 million.
The Mines Ministry will receive $293, 2 million with Ncube adding government is targeting realisation of US$12 billion from its mineral resources by 2023.
“Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe will be supported through a credit guarantee scheme to provide funding and support to non-gold sector,” he said.
The tourism sector will be allocated $291 million.
The Finance Minister said there will be duty dispensations for tourist sector equipment such as luxury buses which have assisted the sector by providing an investment window to aid its recovery.
He has also introduced the Youth Employment Tax Incentive (YETI) under the 2020 budget to support employers who generate jobs for youths..
“Any additional job created will attract a percentage tax rebate to the employer, linked to the employee’s salary,” he said.