Mammoth task awaits Treasury boss Mthuli 

Source: Mammoth task awaits Treasury boss Mthuli -Newsday Zimbabwe

TWO months ago, he mounted what was touted as a development-centric political campaign to lure Cowdray Park residents in Bulawayo to elect him as legislator.

Unfortunately, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube lost to Pashor Sibanda of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party and his plan to implement several development projects such as rehabilitating roads, electrifying parts of Cowdray Park, providing internet services and drilling boreholes fell flat.

Now the man faces yet another more Herculean task of drawing up the 2024 national budget.

His major nemesis is the country’s rampaging inflation, which according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency stands at 103%.

Already, allocations made to various ministries last year have since been exhausted owing to high inflation.

Despite losing the electoral contest in the August parliamentary elections, President Emmerson Mnangagwa retained Ncube as Finance minister and added the investment promotion portfolio on his plate as government desperately tries to woo the much-needed investment.

Now, for the umpteenth time, Ncube’s work is cut out as he tries to meet mounting needs and satisfy every ministry’s financial requirements.

Last week, various ministries appeared before parliamentary portfolio committees presenting their budget bids for 2024, and they immediately revealed that money allocated to them last year was depleted before mid-year due to late disbursement and inflation.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry acting permanent secretary Rofina Chikava last week told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs led by Webster Shamu that the ministry bade for ZWL$110,3 billion for 2023, but was only allocated ZWL$81,8 billion, which was, however, eroded by inflation.

“The Foreign Affairs and International Trade (ministry) was allocated ZWL$81 billion in the 2023 national budget. This budget was exhausted by mid-year/(June) due to movements in exchange rates and general increases in prices of goods and services,” Chikava said.

Health ministry acting finance director Lynnete Tennis said timely disbursement was essential to provide efficient services.

“We hope that the Finance ministry will find additional resources to fund us to provide services. Allocated envelopes need to be relooked at and maybe re-prioritised so that we can provide services,” she said.

For 2024, the Home Affairs ministry has requested ZWL$2 trillion, with much of the money aimed at acquiring vehicles for different departments, including immigration, which is failing to repatriate deportees due to the unavailability of customised vehicles.

Speaking during the parliamentary portfolio committee pre-budget consultative meeting, Home Affairs permanent secretary Raphael Faranisi said the budget allocation would be channelled towards governance, image building, infrastructure and utilities, youth, sport and culture, environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management.

From November 1 to 4, Parliament will be conducting a pre-budget seminar as a precursor to the national budget announcement by Ncube anytime soon.

Since the coming in of the new dispensation under the stewardship of Mnangagwa, the cost of living has been rising, leading to the deterioration of the standards of living of many people and Ncube holds the key to reverse this.