By Daniel Chigundu
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa finally agreed to increase budget allocation to Parliament of Zimbabwe from the initial US$57 million to about US$80 million.
Parliamentarians had wanted about US$98 million which they say is required to help effectively discharge their oversight and legislative roles.
In 2017 and the previous years, Parliamentary committees had to rely on development partners for them to conduct public hearings on Bills and petitions and is most cases they would skip some areas as Parliament had not resources.
Legislators had agreed to sabotage the 2018 national budget if their demands were not met, putting pressure on the already pressured Finance Minister.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on the 2018 Finance Bill, Minister Chinamasa said while he understands the mandate of Parliament, there is also need to realise that funds are not available.
“After consultation with Chief-Whips, I want to say from the onset that I understand that Parliament has its mandate but I want you to also understand that resources are not there and the worst thing I don’t want to do is to promise you huge amounts which will not be available.
“I don’t want to lie to you because the money is really not there.
“But after consultations I am very clear that the mandate of Parliament must be discharged and we have agreed that the total figure of the vote should be amended to US$80 million,” he said
Besides the US$80 million allocation, legislators starting from the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe will no longer be required to pay for their vehicles but will be given for free.
Minister Chinamasa also added that legislators will also be allowed to import vehicles duty free in the third life of the Parliament to compensate for the wear and tear of their allocated vehicles.
According to Chinamasa, treasury is unable to allocate full amounts requested by ministries in their proposals arguing that the cake is too small compared to the demands.
Salaries and wages take up most of the revenue that would have been collected by government, leaving too little for capital projects and other things.
Chinamasa said budget requests in 2018 where about US$25 billion against a US$5.7 billion budget.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister also revised the health allocation to about US$520million from the earlier proposed US$408 million.