‘Phantom budget’ storm in Parly
LEGISLATORS have slammed the Treasury for creating a ‘phantom budget’ where it allocates money to health institutions but does not disburse it.
Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care told participants at an International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases workshop in Bulawayo yesterday that the health sector was in the intensive care unit due to the Treasury’s failure to provide funds.
It was revealed at the workshop that some health institutions have not received their budget allocations for 2016. The committee said this was hurting the health sector as institutions’ plans hinge on expected budget allocations.
The committee’s concerns come barely a week after the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa blasted the Treasury for not prioritising the health sector.
Parliamentary Portfolio on Health and Child Care TB caucus chairperson Dr Paul Chimedza said the Ministry of Finance should be realistic in its budget allocations.
“Those funds should be released. You don’t want to allocate things that are not there. If you look at the budget that has been allocated to the Ministry of Health, most of the money is only allocated on paper. I’ll give an example, this reference laboratory (National TB Reference Laboratory) was allocated $1 million. Only $5 000 was given last year. This year not a single cent has been given to the lab and yet it was allocated $1 million. Not a cent! So essentially it’s a phantom allocation. You allocate when the money doesn’t exist it’s not going to help us,” said Dr Chimedza.
He said the issue will be raised with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa during the 2017 budget retreat. Dr Chimedza said the committee has visited the country’s health institutions and observed the dire situation they were operating under.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode decried the deteriorating state of affairs in health centres.
“Let’s at least achieve the 15 percent that we signed in the Abuja declaration. About 15 percent of the national budget must go to health. If we just achieve that and disburse money we will be okay,” she said. — @nqotshili