Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Current national budgeting procedures flawed – Moyo

The Member of Parliament for Tati West, Guma Moyo, has told The Sunday Standard that the current budgeting processes by the national treasury are flawed.

He said every year parliament is approving funds that can only be spent three or four years down the line.

That is wrong and has to come to an end, he said.
Parliament has to approve only the money that will be utilized within the twelve months of the budgeted financial year, said Moyo.

He gave as an example the P5.8 billion development budget approved by parliament in February this year.

Only a fraction of that money has so been spent. “Probably less than 30 percent,” he said.

And this is despite the fact that in a few months the government financial year will come to an end then the minister will come to parliament yet again and ask for more money that will not be immediately needed nor used.

“Every year, the minister comes to parliament under the assumption that all projects presented to him are about to take off. And that is never the case.”
“Parliament has over the years not been playing its role in the processes of scrutinizing the budgetary processes.”

Moyo said this after he was elected Chairman of the parliamentary Finance and Estimates Committee.
He said henceforth parliament would have a bigger say at the preparatory stages of the national budget to avoid excesses by the executive.
“All along it has been a cabinet show. That has to come to an end,” he said.

“If figures do not add up and meet the NDP formation we will insist that they make adjustments,” he said referring to cabinet.

Over the years, there have been complaints that the executive (cabinet) had the tendency to exclude appropriate parliamentary committees from preparations for the national budget.

As such, Members of Parliament only get to know about the contents of the budget when the Minister of Finance unveils it.

This robbed the MPs and the people they represent the ownership of the budget.

Other members of Moyo’s committee include MPs Nehemiah Modubule, Daniel Kwelagobe, Moumakwa, Thebe Mogami, Omphitlhetse Maswabi and Slumber Tsogwane.

Moyo is buoyant that all along parliament has not been very proactive in putting into use the powers bestowed it by the Standing Orders.

“Parliament has to be involved in the budgetary process; beyond just the estimates,” said Moyo.
He said the important thing is that parliament, through his committee has to understand and approve the basis and assumptions of the cabinet in coming up with the figures and proposals that they want parliament to approve.

To do that his committee will scrutinize the draft budget to ensure that it conforms to the dictates of the National Development Plan.

“NDPs have to become guiding principles. And cabinet has to be held accountable to the NDP,” said Moyo.

He said his biggest worry is that, over the years, the funds requested by the Minister of Finance and subsequently approved turned out not spent at all.
This caused the problems of not only getting projects deferred but also suffocating the delivery capacity of government as projects inevitably stockpiled.

“We are now experiencing a big problem where every year parliament is approving funds that do not have to be approved as they are not needed in that particular year,” he said.

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.