SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda yesterday expressed dismay over the $7,1 billion budgetary allocation that Parliament got for 2021 saying it would compromise its oversight role.
BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Mudenda said this during a Parliament of Zimbabwe post budget seminar in Harare where he emphasised that Parliament’s vote should have been treated differently and prioritised, despite that the national cake might be too small.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube last Thursday announced the 2021 National Budget where he shared $421 billion among ministries, government departments and institutions.
Mudenda said he was disappointed that Parliament’s budget allocation for 2021 registered a 28% decline, from an equivalent allocation of US$124 million in 2020 to a US$89 million in 2021, which will severely cripple its oversight role.
“I want us all to reflect back and take note of our deliberations during the past few years where, as Parliament, we called for complete separation of budgetary allocations within the different organs of government so as not to compromise the oversight role of Parliament,” Mudenda said.
“In other jurisdictions, Parliament’s budget is not even debated or amended. It is just adopted as it is. Therefore, in order for Parliament as an oversight institution to accomplish its mandate effectively and efficiently during the year 2021 going forward, it is crucial that it be adequately funded so that it is able to fulfil its constitutional mandate consummately,” he said.
The Speaker urged the Budget and Finance Portfolio Committee, and the Public Accounts Committee to press Ncube to allocate more resources to the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s office so that her office is effective in its audit role.
“Corruption undermines the trust between the citizens and the State. The evil phenomenon of corruption is so pervasive. What differentiates us is how we deal with it, especially as Parliament exercises its oversight role in the implementation of the budget,” he said.
The Speaker then blasted ministries for failing to comply with statutory requirements that they must submit quarterly reports on their budget performance. He said in 2018, only six ministries comply.
However, the compliance levels are said to have increased in 2019 with two ministries having submitted all reports and 13 having submitted two reports. In 2020, the number of compliant ministries has gone back to nine.
Mudenda said, while some ministries sent their reports, the Parliament Budget Office noted some inconsistencies in them and lack of essential information which is financial in nature, thus making it difficult for Parliamentary committees to effectively play their oversight role.
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