THE Office of the President and Cabinet is set to gobble a sizeable chunk of the 2014 budget after being allocated more than US$206 million, which is more than the combined allocations to the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Agriculture, Mines and Energy, which are key to the country’s economic recovery.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
According to a Government Gazette, Appropriation (2014) 2013, outlining the budget allocations by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to ministries and other government departments, the Office of the President was allocated 5,6% of the total US$3,6 billion budget allocation.
This is about six times what the Office of the President was allocated by then finance minister Tendai Biti in the 2013 budget, who gave it US$36,3 million.
Departments that fall under the Office of the President include the offices of the vice-presidents, ministers of state and the spy Central Intelligence Organisation.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce was allocated US$7,4 million, Energy and Power Development US$23,4 million, Mines and Mining Development US$8,6 million and Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development US$155,2 million.
The Defence ministry continues to get the second biggest chunk of the total budget allocation as was the case during the pre-Government of National Unity (GNU) era when Zanu PF was in power.
It received a budget allocation of US$368 million, followed closely by Home Affairs which got US$364 million. These are major jumps from US$26,2 million allocated to Defence and US$2,1 million to Home Affairs in 2013 by Biti.
The biggest allocation went to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, which received US$866 million.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care, whose service delivery system has been crumbling over the years resulting in a high maternal mortality rate currently pegged at 790 per 100 000 live births, compared to 390 deaths per 100 000 in the 1990s, means eight women die every day while giving birth.
In addition, 100 children under five years die every day mainly due to preventable diseases, while around a third of them are stunted. The health sector has been relying much on donors whose funding has been dwindling.
Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha, who vowed after his appointment in September to resuscitate the ailing industries, has said the paltry US$7,3 million he got only catered for the day-to-day running of the ministry.
Zimbabwe needs at least US$10 billion to revive its distressed manufacturing sector.
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Manufacturing Sector Survey Report for 2013, capacity utilisation in the sector plunged to 39,6% from 44% in 2012.
Bimha has publicly admitted that the country’s industries were generally in the intensive care unit and desperately in need of help.
Among others, parliament was allocated US$20,9 million, Public Service US$168 million, Finance US$202 million, Environment US$93,4 million, Transport US$69 million, Foreign Affairs US$63,8 million, Local Government US$88,3 million, Higher Education US$332,7 million.
Glaringly absent on the list is the allocation to the Anti-Corruption Commission.'