‘Phan­tom bud­get’ storm in Parly

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili Chronicle Cor­re­spon­dent

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

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