via 2014 National Budget presentation to be delayed | The Herald November 4, 2013 by Zvamaida Murwira
THE presentation of the 2014 National Budget will be delayed because Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa wants ample time to consult all stakeholders, but he will fulfil the constitutional requirement of January 2014 and hopes to present the budget next month. Minister Chinamasa told a pre-budget consultative seminar being attended by legislators here that he needed more time before he makes his maiden budget presentation since assuming the finance portfolio in a substantive capacity.
“We don’t have a budget statement in November. I need more time, possibly in December, but we will meet the constitutional requirement of doing it by January 2014,” said Minister Chinamasa.
Last Friday, National Assembly Speaker, Cde Jacob Mudenda implored legislators to take their time in debating the budget, saying in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, they had until January next year to consider it.
In his address to legislators, Minister Chinamasa concurred that the National Budget could still be passed by end of January.
The delayed presentation of the National Budget would mean that workers would have to wait a little longer before they know the tax-free bonus threshold, which has traditionally boosted their disposable income.
During the meeting, legislators raised concern about payment of past Parliamentary sitting allowances, saying those who failed to retain their parliamentary seats were now wallowing in poverty.
Musikavanhu MP, Mr Proper Mutseyami (MDC-T) said many legislators who did not come back to Parliament were now destitute and were even failing to pay school fees for their children.
Mr Mutseyami also implored Minister Chinamasa to action the vehicle loan scheme for sitting MPs, saying that would enhance their mobility in the constituencies.
In response, Minister Chinamasa said the legislators were entitled to their money.
“The indebtedness to former MPs is hereby acknowledged. We may enter into some discussions on payment modalities on how it can be paid. Nyorai chikwereti chacho kumusana,” he said, drawing laughter from the floor.
Winding up the seminar that ended last night, Cde Mudenda said the Standing Rules and Orders Committee had tasked a sub-committee to look into the welfare of MPs.
“Before we can shoot in the dark, let us have your suggestions in terms of improving your welfare including the vehicles to be given to MPs,” he said.
Cde Mudenda said he would also engage Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema to see how legislators could participate in empowerment programmes.
He said this would go a long way in ensuring that they do not lead miserable lives should they leave Parliament.