Legislators have taken to task Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, over revelations that a paltry 14 percent of the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s operational budget has been disbursed to date.
That followed Ncube’s glossing in Parliament over what the government was doing to address the country’s economic woes including inflation.
“My question goes to the Minister of Finance,” said Bulawayo Central MP.
“He has just spoken of successes and failures of fiscal policies. Why is it that key ministries like the Ministry of Health had 14% of their operational budget to date? We heard about poverty levels, many Zimbabweans rely on public health institutions and the operational budget means that even for the doctors and nurses – there is nothing they can do.”
However, Ncube said The Ministry of Finance does not force ministries to take money from them.
“The Ministries request money,” he said.
“There is a process for disbursement and the Ministry of
Health has followed that process and the Ministry of Finance has responded accordingly on those draw-downs.”
Bulawayo proportional representation MP, Jasmine Toffa further quizzed Ncube
“The point here Honourable Minister is that the Ministry of Health has only received 14% of the budget currently,” she said.
“So, they received ZWL$19 million, meaning that the funds are being eaten away by inflation. So, our concern as a Committee (on Health and Child Care) is that the Ministry of Health is not getting the funding timeously. Why is that so, Honourable Minister?”
Ncube however denied that the Ministry was not receiving funds timeously.
“The Ministry of Health is receiving its funding timeously and we will continue to do so,” emphasized Ncube.
“As Ministry of Finance, we will always respond to whatever request any Ministry presses upon us and we respond timeously. Unless of course we have cash flow challenges, which happens from time to time but I can assure you that we are responding timeously to that very important Ministry.”
Harare North MP Allan Markham further demanded clarity.
“My point of clarity is, the Minister is saying he is distributing the money timeously,” he said.
“That now means the Ministry of Health is not asking for the money. Can the Minister confirm that the Ministry of Health has received all the money that they have asked for and they are the ones that are causing the delay so that only 14% of the budget has been disbursed? That is my point of clarity.”
He added: “However, given that the exchange rate, for example when we did
the budget, the parallel rate was ZWL$200 and the government rate was
ZWL$85. It is now three times that. If you have only distributed the original budget of 14%, the things are costing three times more, it means that your 14% is divided by three. In other words, you have distributed nothing to the Ministry of Health. Can the Minister confirm that if the Ministry of Health is getting everything they require, then we should be now at 50% of the budget issued?”
In his response, Ncube said: “I can confirm that the Ministry of Health has received all the resources that it has asked from the Treasury timeously.”