The government is so broke that it had allocated the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare only 13.1 percent of its budget and a meagre2 percent of its programme budget by the end of the first half of 2014.
A report by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare presented by Gutu East Member of Parliament Berita Chikwama yesterday said the ministry was allocated $168.7 million with $37.9 million being for programmes. But by the end of the first half of the year, it had received only 2 percent of its programme budget and 13.1 percent of its total budget.
The following programmes had not received any funding by end of June:
Food Mitigation Programme,
Millennium Development Goals,
Community Recovery Rehabilitation Programmes,
National Heroes Dependants Assistance and
Private Voluntary Organisations.
The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) targeted at payment of school fees, levies and examination fees for 75 000 Secondary school vulnerable children, which was allocated US$15million had only received US$ 4.5 million from the Treasury and US$ 1 million from the National AIDS Council in the second quarter.
The government has two years arrears of BEAM secondary school fees which has resulted in some schools turning away children.
Britain’s Department For International Development (DFID) which bailed out the government at the beginning of the year had already paid its US$10 million which was used to pay fees for first and second terms primary school fees, leaving a deficit of US$5 million for the third term.
1.1 The Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare received oral evidence on the first half of 2014 Budget Performance of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on 14 July 2014. The Ministry was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. N. Masoka and Directors of the various departments within the Ministry. The Committee also considered written submissions from the Ministry on the same subject.
2.0 BUDGET ALLOCATION
2.1 The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare’s allocation in the 2014 National Budget was US$168 707 000, that is 4.1% of the national budget. Of this allocation, US$37 900 000 was for programmes. During the first and second quarters of 2014, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare received 2% and 13.1 % of the programmes and budget respectively.
3.0 DEPARTMENTAL ALLOCATIONS
3.1 Child Welfare and Probation Services
3.1.1 The Committee was informed that the Ministry’s programmes under this department had not received any financial resources from the Treasury during the first quarter of 2014, except for Government Social Protection Institutions which received US$ 100 000 out of the approved allocation of US$1 million. Government Social Protection Institutions further received US$ 150 thousand in June 2014. However, the Committee learnt that children in these institutions were living under very poor conditions since the disbursed amount was inadequate to cover basic needs, for instance, girls who have to do without sanitary wear and toiletries.
3.1.2 The Committee was further informed that the 2014 National Budget allocated US$ 15 million towards the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) targeted at payment of school fees, levies and examination fees for 75 000 Secondary school vulnerable children. The programme only received US$ 4,5 million from the Treasury and US$ 1 million from the National AIDS Council in the second quarter, an amount which only covered school fees arrears. The Committee learnt that the Government currently has 2 years arrears of BEAM secondary school fees. In this regard, Secondary schools have not received payments for the first, second and third terms of 2013. Late disbursement of funds and non-payment of fees and levies have resulted in school authorities turning away children, which ultimately, leads to loss of faith in the programme by stakeholders, parents and children. The Committee was informed that the British Department For International Development (DFID) had already fulfilled its pledge of US$10 million towards the payment of first and second terms primary school fees under BEAM. This left a deficit of US$5 million for the third term fees and resources for this purpose had not yet been found.
3.1.3 The Committee noted with concern that up to June 2014 Children in Difficult Circumstances and the Street Children Fund had not received any funding. This implies that administration grants and school fees for children under foster care remained unpaid. In addition to that, the Street Fund Management Committee failed to conduct any rehabilitation and reunification programmes.
3.2 Social Services
3.2.1 The Social Services Department had not receive any allocations from the Treasury during the first quarter of 2014 which resulted in non- implementation of critical social welfare programmes. In the second quarter, the department received funding from the Treasury as shown below:
Harmonised Social Cash Transfers – US$ 50 000 out of an approved allocation of US$ 3 million
Health Assistance – US$ 200 000 out of an approved amount of US$ 2 million
Support to Persons Living with Disability – US$ 200 000 out of US$ 1,4 million
Maintenance of Older Persons – US$ 50 000 which is set to be disbursed to beneficiaries
3.2.2 The Ministry officials highlighted to the Committee that the following programmes have not received any funding by June 2014: Food Mitigation Programme, Millennium Development Goals, Community Recovery Rehabilitation Programmes, National Heroes Dependants Assistance and Private Voluntary Organisations. The overall result was non-performance by the Ministry in the respective areas with negative cascading effects, including failure to implement Accelerated Action Plans to speed up the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in anticipation of the fast approaching 2015 deadline. Furthermore, the Ministry failed to execute its function of monitoring Community Recovery Programmes and Private Voluntary Organisations activities.
3.3 Labour Administration
3.3.1 This department received financial support from the Treasury in the first quarter of 2014 as follows:
Labour Governance – US$ 330 111 out of US$ 3 415 160 approved allocation;
Coordination of Labour Standards – US$ 10 423 out of US$107 640;
National Employment Framework – US$ 7 669 out of US$ 79 200 approved allocation;
Model of Employment – US$ 2 518 out of US$ 26 000 approved allocation.
3.4 Industrial Relations
3.4.1 The department received nothing in terms of funding in the first and second quarters of the year, except for the Improvement of Conditions of Service Programme which received US$$ 10 000 in June 2014, only adequate to cover committee sitting allowances.
3.5 Manpower Planning and Development
3.5.1 The majority of the department’s programmes did not receive any funding from Treasury in the first and second quarters of 2014, except the Public Service Mandatory Courses which received US$ 10 000 in May 2014.
3.6 Administration and General
3.6.1 Priority programmes, such as Construction of the Ministry’s stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds did not receive funding from Treasury in the first half of 2014.
4.1 The Committee made the following observations:
4.2 The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is severely underfunded in view of the paltry 2014 budgetary allocations and the insignificant amounts disbursed towards nationwide programmes during the first half of 2014.
4.3 DFID has honoured its US$10 million pledge towards primary schools first and second terms fees under the BEAM programme, while the Government has not yet secured the US$5 million for the third term. In addition to that, the Government has 2 years BEAM payment arrears for secondary schools.
4.4 Training Centres and ZIPAM did not receive any allocation from Treasury in the first half of 2014.
5.1 The Committee appreciates the support given by the Treasury considering the financial constrains currently faced by the country. However, the Committee feels that Treasury should prioritise the Ministry when allocating funds since it administers critical social welfare programmes targeting vulnerable groups, such as: children and older persons; in view of the fact that these are rights enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe and play a critical role in eradicating poverty, as well as fostering development.
5.2 The Committee calls upon the Government to demonstrate commitment towards BEAM by disbursing resources on time since failure to do so is undermining the objective of the programme.
The Government should prioritise income generating projects, for example; ZIPAM and other Training Centres, in disbursing available resources as resuscitation of these institutions will generate revenue and reduce the burden on the fiscus. The Committee also recommends that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare reviews upwards accommodation charges at Training Centres in line with market rates to raise funds for renovations and ultimately attract clients to these institutions. I thank you Mr. Speaker.