By Joyce Mukucha
Following the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)’s ongoing implementation of a one-year programme that seeks to enhance meaningful and inclusive citizen participation in parliamentary business, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been challenged to thoroughly analyse and review the budget through effective allocation of resources.
This is in line with the dictates of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act, 2013, particularly Section 141 (Public access to and involvement in Parliament) and resonates well with the Vision 2030 of attaining an upper middle economy.
It has been emphasised that budget analysis enables MPs to fully understand the budget and importance of its various proposals.
In his presentation during a SAPST training workshop for New Women MPs on Budget Oversight on the 2nd of February 2020, Senior Economist, Artwell Gonese stressed that in as much as strengthening parliamentary processes and public participation into legislative process for good governance and accountability is concerned, it was of paramount importance to gauge equity in spending especially by focusing on the most vulnerable groups.
It is critical, he said, to analyse revenue and how it affects every member of the society especially the have nots as well as ensuring that it is easy to implement.
“As parliamentarians, it is significant to practice equity in spending. Per capita concept involves determining fairness in the allocation of public resources for instance the worst affected areas. You should not keep focus on the same areas when allocating public resources. Also, you ought to know the inputs, outputs, outcomes and the impacts they have for the nation.What you as parliamentarians have gathered from public hearings must also assist you. That kind of analysis helps you to know which areas need to be improved when allocating resources,” said Gonese.
He added that adjusting for inflation, comparing budget to cost of provision, analysing budget vis-a-vis important concepts as well as assessing the credibility of projections would help to deliver effective duties.
“Budget analysing requires an understanding of public administration processes. It should be well timed and done through the cycle and above all it should focus on both revenue and expenditures sides.
“When analysing, take into consideration most important aspects such as rights based budgeting, pro-poor budgeting, gender program based budgeting among others. It is also crucial to take into account changes in prices as it gives a better idea of purchasing power, that is how much can actually be brought with a certain sum of money compared with previous points in the time.”
Gonese urged the MPs that after assessing the credibility and the macroeconomic framework, when they figure out out that it is not realistic and feasible, they should quickly approach the responsible Ministry to ensure that the budget balance targets are met.
“As we strive to attain vision 2030 as Zimbabwe, it is your responsibility as parliamentarians in every area you operate in to make sure that the revenues and expenditures targeted are realistic, be aware of risks and how they can be mitigated. The most important aspect I want to reiterate and urge you to apply whenever you review the budget is to consider the poor by guaranteeing that the most affected members of the society are catered for. These include children, the poor and women. Whenever you see gaps and realise that there is no equity and feasibility in allocation of resources, do not hesitate to liaise with the ministry so that such can be dealt with. You must play a pivotal role in ensuring that policies and measures are put in place to address challenges and make sure that our economy is growing,”he said.
In terms of having feasible Gross Domestic Product, he emphasised that it was important to know the divers of changes to growth and how they reflect the situation on the ground pertaining local and global developments such as remittances.
Participants said there was need to work hard as female parliamentarians to ensure that the economy is resuscitated as well as ensuring that there is fair allocation and distribution of resources. However, some pointed out that although they are being equipped with knowledge and being given support, they were still facing challenges to deliver their duties effectively.