THE government has allocated US$53,5 million to social protection programmes that had virtually collapsed due to economic challenges fueled by inflation.
Presenting the 2009 national Budget yesterday, acting Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa said human development indicators were continuing to deteriorate due to depressed economic performance.
The social security programmes to be bankrolled by government include the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), public health assistance, public works and children in difficult circumstances.
Chinamasa said: â€œInflation has not only eroded incomes of our teachers, lecturers and health personnel, but also contributed to the inadequate teaching materials, medicines and drugs as well as deterioration in facilities and infrastructure.
â€œIt is critical that we urgently address the challenges afflicting the education sector as they threaten to reverse and undermine the gains made thus far.â€
As a result, the Ministry of Education was allocated US$149,8 million while US$10,8 million was set aside for construction and rehabilitation of schools.
For the procurement of teaching, learning materials and equipment, Chinamasa allocated the ministry US$46,1 million while US$2,96 million was set aside to facilitate supervision of schools by improving the mobility of education officers.
In-service training for school heads was allocated US$6,33 million.
Chinamasa said the integrity of the public examinations has recently come under the spotlight following delays in setting and marking and as a result he allocated US$16,9 million to the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council â€œto improve and restore confidenceâ€.
The allocation would be supplemented by additional income from examination fees, which would be reviewed periodically.
Chinamasa allocated US$29,9 million to state universities.
Out of that allocation, US$12,5 million would be for recurrent expenditure and US$17,4 million for capital projects, including teaching and learning materials.
Chinamasa allocated US$12,5 million to 13 teachers training colleges and 10 polytechnics for operational requirements.
â€œThe provision under Higher and Tertiary Education also caters for $175 quadrillion (US$5 million) in support of students under the National Education Training Fund, including targeted students under the cadetship programmes,â€ the minister said.
Turning to the health sector, Chinamasa said adequate provision of drugs, medical supplies, equipment, ambulances and service vehicles, including attraction and retention of staff were critical factors in the health delivery services.
â€œI therefore propose to allocate $5,52 quintillion (US$157,8 million) to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare,â€ he said.
About US$60 million ($2,1 quintillion) will be targeted at government central, provincial and district hospitals and rural health centres.
Sixty percent of the allocation would cater for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies and the rest will go to general running expenses.
Chinamasa set aside US$21,7 million for the procurement of drugs and other medical supplies for local authorities and mission hospitals and clinics.
NatPharm has been allocated US$16,25 million for recapitalisation.
The Health ministry is expected to procure 61 ambulances and 80 service vehicles from the US$4 million it was allocated for equipment.
Chinamasa allocated US$6,6 million for urgent rehabilitation of health infrastructure such as boilers, steam reticulation systems and laundry equipment at Harare, Mpilo, United Bulawayo hospital and Chitungwiza central hospitals.
BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA