Panafrican News Agency

Zimbabwe's finance minister mulls cutting expenditure to govt departments not accounting for state funds

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA)   -  Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube Friday proposed cutting expenditure to ministries that fail to account for treasury funds disbursed to them from the national budget.

This came out during a parliamentary sitting where Ncube was grilled on why he continued to allocate to ministries state funds despite giving no account on how previous funds were spent.

“It is a fair question. In terms of budgeting in my previous job, we used to cut back on budgets for departments that did not account in full on how they had used resources or badly used resources because we had a performance-based budgeting process. But in a sense, this is what we have migrated to,” Ncube said.

“It is a performance-based budget and unfortunately, I do not think that we can do it immediately but over time we should be able to say on this specific programme, you underperformed or abused funds. Therefore, why should we give you additional resources, but we should cut back. So, it is my hope that this format of the Blue Book will help the Hon. Members to interrogate the departments more precisely about budget performance and about output impact.”

He added: “Not just input because revenue is input and this is now output and impact. We hope that this new approach will help us get there but we are not yet there unfortunately.”

Ncube was responding to a question from Norton (constituency in Zimbabwe) member of parliament(MP), Temba Mliswa, who had asked the minister: “How we continuously give money to ministries yet they do not account and there are bad audit reports from the auditor general’s office. How comfortable are you with that?”

Over the past few years, the auditor general’s (AGs) office has continued to report how government ministries and state enterprises do not account for the funds allocated by treasury, prejudicing the state of billions of dollars.

Despite this work by the AG's office, it was only allocated 0.03 per cent of the 2020 National Budget of ZWL$63,6 billion against international best practice wherein an auditor’s office is supposed to receive one percent.

Meanwhile, government is working on the establishment of a central coordinating unit for the internal audit and compliance function, within treasury, as a measure for enhancing internal audit systems control.

“If you look at the staff complement of the auditor general’s office against their responsibility, the office now audits all the local authorities, para-statals and Government institutions. If we look at the complement and try to match it with the responsibility it does not add up. The biggest problem is also that the Auditor General’s Office has been doing quite well and because of that a lot of organisations now use it as a training ground,” MP for Kambuzuma constituency Willias Madzimure said.

“They are losing a lot of experienced auditors, as a result, we end up now giving contracts to other audit firms to do forensic audits on behalf of the auditor general. If we look at how much we pay those companies as compared to if we could have used the skills that we have in the auditor general’s office, we could do a lot of saving.”


-0-     PANA      TZ/RA    13Dec2019