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Saturday, January 16, 2021

MPs press for tangible benefits for restless constituents

Members of Parliament want the 2021 national budget figures to provide tangible benefits that help in turning around and improve the quality of life for ordinary persons in their constituencies.

In an interview last week soon after Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presented a $421 billion 2021 national budget, legislators said there were keen to see how the budget which has high sounding figures will transform the lives of people through provision of social safety nets.

Bulawayo Proportional Representative MP Dr Thokozani Khupe who is also Leader of the opposition in Parliament said they would push Treasury to ensure that ordinary persons benefit from the fiscal measures announced by Prof Ncube in his 2021 national budget.

“What we have heard are figures in the Minister’s national budget statement and in the blue book. What now remains for us is to see as representatives of the people is how those figures will transform the lives of people. Clearly, we need to ensure that those figures translate into a better and improved quality of life, we want the budget to satisfy the needs of the people, it should make sure that people have food on their table, have houses,” said Dr Khupe.

“As Parliamentarians we will double our efforts next year, it will not be business as usual, we will make sure that the budget gets to the intended beneficiaries and timeously. I was impressed that it focused on infrastructure, budgets should not be consumptive but productive so that we produce and export so as to generate foreign exchange.” said Dr Khupe.

Parliament’s portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education chairperson, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said while she was excited that the Ministry, she shadowed got the bulk of the share of the budget she was still keen to establish how much per capita does it provide.

“The temptation is to get excited about the figures only to establish that most of the figures will go towards salaries. As chairperson of Primary and Secondary Education is to determine how much per child does the budget provides,” she said.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she was happy with the provision of $500 million towards sanitary wear something she said was commendable.

Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna said there was need to stabilise significantly the exchange rate for the budget to have meaningful impact.

“If you look at the official exchange rate compared to our budget you will notice that it has gone down compared to what have been getting over the years,” he said.

He commended Treasury for providing funding for infrastructure particularly aviation industry which will spruce up small airports in the country saying that will promote domestic and international tourism.

Nduna said the decision by Treasury to provide funding for the Harare-Beitbridge high way commendable given that the project was being spearheaded by local engineers.

“We have been using 100 percent local contractors to spruce up the road. We are now using our own engineers and 80 percent of the material used in road construction is available locally. So we can use this budget as a pedestal for economic development,” he said.

Parliament’s Portfolio committee on Budget and Finance chairperson Felex Mhona said the national budget was consistent with what people had said they wanted during their consultation process.

He said Prof Ncube’s budget had lived within the threshold of various protocols such as Dakar Declaration on education and Maputo Declaration.

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