By Anna Chibamu
FINANCE Minister, Mthuli Ncube last week dismissed line ministries’ 2023 budget bids of $9 trillion, saying the proposed figures were too high unless government was to borrow.
The minister told delegates including Parliament Speaker Jacob Mudenda that ministries lacked knowledge on the global strategy paper needed to be adopted when formulating national budgets.
According to Mthuli, bids were controlled by the economy’s performance (GDP figures) which is the guiding principle.
Responding to contributions by ministries and MPs during the pre-budget seminar, Ncube advised government would not be able to fund the proposed line ministries’ proposals submissions of $9 trillion worth of bids for 2023 budget.
He said Treasury would not go beyond the limited envelope of $3,4 trillion.
“The bids are three times what is available. The economy can only support about 17% of GDP and that percentage of the GDP transfers to about $3 trillion unless we borrow.
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“This then turns to be the ceiling for everything. As Treasury, we then try to come up with ceilings for various ministries, including Parliament,” Ncube said.
The minister added, “We are an economy driven by a global figure which is driven by the capacity of the economy in the first place. In future, we will ask the MPs to assist us in advising the ministries of these ceilings.
“We cannot go beyond the global envelope that is in the strategy global paper so $3,4 trillion is in the strategy budget paper. We beg for your support going forward in guiding the various ministries in terms of these ceilings.”
Some of the bids that were drastically cut included the Defence ministry’s bid of $800 billion which was reduced to $226 billion.
Sports ministry had its bid of $340 billion cut to a mere $11,7 billion whilst Public Service ministry was reduced to $87 billion from a staggering $657 billion. The Higher and Tertiary Education ministry had its proposal also downsized to $99.4 billion up from 176 billion.
Although Ncube was attacked by MPs for failing to disburse past budgetary allocations to the line ministries, the finance chief told the legislators he was impressed by their contributions and the zeal for development.
“I have been impressed by the passion exhibited by Members of Parliament as they made their contributions. We take recommendations very seriously and they form the basis of the people’s budget,” Ncube said.