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budget: Disbursements the real test
November 23, 2012
increases for civil servants and a raised tax-free bonus threshold
of US$1 000 for all employees announced by Finance minister Tendai
Biti in his 2013 budget
proposals may provide some relief to workers, but overall, the US$3,8
billion budget could struggle to meet the country's public
service delivery, particularly in health and education despite the
sizeable allocations given to both sectors.
In a budget
that some analysts said was designed to be pro-poor, Biti allocated
US$1 billion towards education, the largest vote, or 27% of the
total while health received US$381 million. The bigger chunk, or
68,4% of these funds are to go towards salaries and wages for these
sectors, a general trend throughout the budget, which left approximately,
US$1,2 billion for government's operational expenses, development
projects and public services.
has hailed the pro-poor stance of the budget, where US$407 million
was allocated to specific poverty alleviation strategies.
in Zimbabwe Coalition called the budget a "good statement
of intent", commending its provision of social services in
five key areas.
US$97,2 million for water and sanitation mainly for dam construction
and building of water and sewer infrastructure by local authorities;
US$13,5 million for economic empowerment and employment creation;
US$25,7 million for social protection; US$175,3 million for health
(which includes allocations for district and provincial hospitals
and maternal health); and lastly, US$95,9 million towards education
for student support, purchase of learning materials and the maintenance
and construction of schools.
in Zimbabwe is positive about an increase in overall spending on
health and education, Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture
David Coltart was more cautious in his response to Biti's
US$1 billion allocation for education as the ministry had only received
US$11,5 million in non-wage budget support by November 2012.
pleased with the theoretical figure that we have gotten, but the
theoretical figure needs to be matched with actual disbursement.
For this year, we only got 15% of the non-salary figure and we need
to see if we're actually going to get more. For us that's
the real test," Coltart said on Tuesday.
has previously complained about government's prioritisation
on expenditure, saying Zimbabwe spends more on defence and foreign
travel than on education.
He says figures
from the January-June table of non-wage budget support show that
as at June 30, 2012, the Ministry of Education, received US$4,7
million only out of an allocated US$77,3 million allocated for sport
and culture had been disbursed, while the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare had received US$22,7 million in non-wage budget support
out of an earmarked US$170,2 million.
the Ministry of Defence received US$35,8 million out of US$101,4
million, while the Office of the President and Cabinet received
US$30,7 million out of its US$114 million allocation.
sounded hopeful that 2013 would be a better year in disbursements
as consultations with the Finance ministry could see critical projects
such as those for maternal health as well as those for orphans and
vulnerable children being ring-fenced.
had productive discussions with Mr Biti and we have talked about
measures to ring-fence some of the projects and make sure we get
the money. I hope that might resolve some of the problems,"
Some of the
challenges facing the ministry include marking of Zimbabwe School
Examinations Council (Zimsec) Grade 7 examinations scheduled to
begin in November, which was delayed this week because the Ministry
of Finance had not provided US$1,5 million needed for travel and
accomodation expenses for exam-markers.
Last month government
was forced to pay US$1,1 million after Zimsec threatened to block
16 000 Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam)-aided students from
sitting their O and A-Level exams late in October.
Beam is a scheme
launched by government and international partners in 2001 to provide
school and exam fees for hundreds of thousands of pupils from disadvantaged
On health, although
Biti noted that government spending had increased to US$18 per capita
from US$7 per capita allocated in 2009, incomplete disbursement
of the health budget would mean this figure could be lower as noted
in the National Child Survival Strategy for Zimbabwe 2010-2015 report.
the share of health in the overall budget had started showing a
decreasing trend over the years, with current per capita investment
in health by government of US$18 falling below the US$34 recommended
by the National Health Strategy (2009 - 2013), the 2013 budget
proposes an allocation of US$381 million," said Biti.
National Child Survival Strategy report produced by the Ministry
of Health, Unicef and the World Health Organisation comments on
the adverse impact of budget disbursements falling short of a projected
allocation on health spending.
of Health was initially allocated US$157 673 800 for the 2009 budget,
which was revised down to US$121 million. However, only US$23 millon
(18%) was actually disbursed," the report says.
"This translates to approximately US$7 per capita, of which
only US$2 per capita was disbursed. The trend has been for budget
disbursements to be below 15% of allocation over the years."
The report notes
that government's inability to fund its own people's
health has meant relying on international donors to supplement health
funding. Health minister Henry Madzorera could not be reached for
comment at the time of going to press.
strives to meet its Millennium Development Goals targets for 2013
and prepare for another year of fiscal austerity, adequate health
and education services remain the concerns of ordinary Zimbabweans,
according to views aired in the rural areas during pre-budget consultations.
budget promises to allocate more money to social services and Biti
has given assurances that government will ring-fence social funds,
it remains to be seen whether 2013 will be a better year for the
disbursement of funds for social services.
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