2023 proposed budget allocation paltry —complains Foreign Affairs Ministry

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By Anna Chibamu

TREASURY’s proposed 2023 budget for the Foreign Affairs ministry is inadequate and cannot cater for the major operations and purchases critical for its basic facilities and requirements, Permanent Secretary James Manzou has said.

Treasury, he said, allocated a resource envelope ceiling of $56,679,913,000 for the 2023 financial year against the ministry’s bid of $110,300, 000,000. leaving a deficit of $53,62 billion.

Manzou was presenting the ministry’s 2023 budget bid and priorities for next year’s national budget to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Webster Shamu.

“All budget items were underfunded and it is my appeal to this committee to consider our proposal.

“For example, compensation of employees was underfunded by $9,720,087,000 (86%) while recurrent expenses (non-wage) were under funded by $33,78 billion reflecting a 41% shortfall. Finance and Non-Financial Assets were underfunded by at least $10.12 billion (64%),” Manzou reported.

Among other setbacks, the secretary reported that the under-funding would affect employees’ conditions of service, especially salaries both at head office and missions as the current 2022 salaries budget was exhausted last August.

“Considering that the ministry has already spent $3,6 billion on employment costs as at September 30, 2022, the 2023 budget allocation of $1,579 billion will not be adequate to cater for the ministry;s requirements. The current budget allocation for 2023 is actually less than $2,727 billion that was allocated to the ministry for the 2022 fiscal year,” highlighted Manzou.

Foreign Affairs ministry has so far consumed $11.9 billion (77.14%) of the 2021 revised budget of $14.87 billion.

A Treasury budget circular Number 2 of 2022 was issued by the Finance ministry, which provides instructions and requirements to be followed by government accounting officers.

The ministry’s arrears stood at USD14.2 million as at September 30, 2022.

On the development and achievements side, Manzou said the refurbishment works on chanceries and residences abroad which were in a terrible state commenced in Nairobi, Pretoria, Beira and Maputo, New York, Abuja and in Berlin.

“The budget expenditure target for finance and non financial assets is thus too inadequate in light of the ministry’s envisaged purchases, construction and major repair works.

“Guest houses in Harare are in need of refurbishments as well, this will require substantial funding targets to be met,” added Manzou.