The Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development kicked-off its public consultations on the 2017 National Budget in Mutare and Masvingo yesterday afternoon, respectively. In order to cover as much ground as possible, the Committee split into two sub-committees (Team A and Team B). Team A is covering the northern part of the country whereas Team is covering the southern part. The public hearings are being conducted in line with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act and the Constitution which enjoin Parliament to consult the public on key policy issues.

While the attendance in Chikanga Hall (Mutare) was low, the few organizations that attended the hearing made very constructive submissions to the Committee. GANCET Trust said the public consultations should be preceded by a report back session to the public on the performance of the current National Budget so that the public can make meaningful contributions on what should be in the following year’s budget. GANCET also observed that budgeted funds were not being used for intended purposes and as a result targets were not being met.

Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Employment Association (ZCIEA) lamented the bloated government work force and called for urgent austerity measures by reducing the size of government through retrenchments of civil servants and reducing the number of government ministries so as to contain the wage bill and associated operational costs, which were currently consuming above 90% of the national budget.

ZCIEA also urged government to expedite the privatization of non-performing paratsatals and public enterprises instead of continuing to pump money into entities that were not giving government returns in terms of dividends.

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt Development (ZIMCOD) said the formulation of the 2017 National Budget should be informed by the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (IPRSPs) so as to address the socio-economic needs of citizens. ZIMCOD also appealed to the Committee that Parliament should address findings of the Auditor General before passing the Budget to ensure that systemic weaknesses exposed in the previous Budgets were addressed before passing the next year’s Budget. ZIMCOD also submitted that the Budget formulation should be guided by international protocols that the country is a signatory to such as the Abuja Declaration, Maputo Declaration.

Chikanga residents urged government to craft investor-friendly policies that will attract the much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The National Budget should give an unequivocal government policy position on FDIs. Residents also said that the 2017 National Budget should establish a cancer levy given the upsurge in people affected by the disease.

The Sub-Committees will conduct public hearings in the following areas;

Tuesday 13/09/2016 0900 Rusape  Vengere Hall
  1100 Mwenezi Rutenga Hall
  1400 Marondera Hope Fay Hotel