National Budget 2024: Parliamentary Committee calls for amendments

Spread This News

By Reason Razao | Senior Reporter

The Parliamentary Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment promotion has raised concerns over the recently proposed 2024 national budget, calling for significant revisions to align it with the views of the public and internationally agreed standards.

Presenting its findings from stakeholder engagements, on Wednesday, committee chairperson, Clemence Chiduwa said improvements can be made to the current budget proposals which are half of the bid received by the Treasury from line ministries.

According to Chiduwa, the parliamentary budget office estimates uptake to 76% in the 2024 budget and this is up from 64% in 2023 and 54% in 2022.

Total bids from various ministries amounted to ZW $110 trillion which is almost double the capacity of revenues and borrowings projected at only 58,2 trillion dollars.

Presenting the findings Chiduwa said: “The committee however is of the view that improvements can be made to the current proposals for the budget to converge with the views of the public.

“The 2024 budget amounts to only 50% of what was requested by different ministries.”

Education received the highest allocation of ZW $10,4 trillion, translating to 17.4% which according to Chiduwa is below the 20% Dakar agreement.

“This allocation needs to be complimented by timely disbursement. I know beam is under social protection, but if we factor in beam which directly goes to the Ministry of Education we will then get a percentage of 19.2% and this is closer to 20%,” said Chiduwa.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care ZW $6,3 trillion which is 10.8%  of the total budget which is also below the Abuja target of 15%.

On health allocation, Chiduwa said: “There are significant gaps in the health sector and the committee recommends an additional injection which will go a long way in moving the health sector towards Vision 2023 and Agenda 2063.”

In the Agriculture sector, ZW $ 4.3 trillion which is 7.4% of the national budget was allocated to the Ministry of lands, which the committee said is below the Maputo declaration of 10%.

For social protection, ZW $2.4 trillion and 4.1% of the budget was allocated to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare for BEAM, harmonized cash transfers, food and deficit mitigation, health assistance.

“This is commendable as it is almost closer to the social protection policy for Africa threshold of 4.5%,” said the chairperson.”

ZW $608.3 billion was allocated towards water and sanitation and Chiduwa said: “This falls short of the government’s commitment to the Ethekwini declaration which recommends that at least 1.5% of GDP be allocated to wash.”

The committee also noted that the initial bid by ZIMRA was ZW $2.97 trillion but was allocated ZW $954 billion which translates to 46% of their resource need.

“Mr Speaker Sir, the global benchmark especially for developing countries is, the cost of collection is 3pc of the targeted revenue and in our case ZIMRA is targeted to collect around ZW $51.5 trillion and the minimum they would need is 3% of our target.

“But they were allocated ZW $954 billion which is less than one percent and I call upon this August House and the Minister to support the initial bid that was submitted by ZIMRA and this is specifically for ZIMRA to collect what we have targeted them to collect,” Chiduwa said.

A total of 210 billion was set aside for the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Development and Vocational Training.

“We feel that given that there are quite a number of places where there is still a need for vocational training centres there is a need for the minister to consider what is in his back pocket and probably consider increasing the budget to the ministry by a further 100 billion.

“This will allow the ministry to focus on the construction of Vocational training centres.”

In terms of devolution and decentralisation, a total of ZW $ 2.7 trillion was allocated for intergovernmental fiscal transfers.

“While this is commendable the government needs to improve on timely disbursements of these funds and the budget should address the challenges faced by the optimum implementation of devolution and decentralisation.”