Here we go again

HARARE - Once again, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Finance and Economic Planning has started holding public consultations around the country to discuss priorities and hear suggestions ahead of the 2016 National Budget.

As is all too often the case, the consultations have been hit by appalling apathy. To be presented in December, the 2016 National Budget will spell out the direction for the national economy.

With the consultations ending on Friday, the discussions were supposed to centre on how to continue advancing the government’s plan for job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity, for the benefit of families and communities.

The public is being given the opportunity to express their views ahead of the 2016 National Budget, but Zimbabweans seem disinterested in this all-important financial plan.

It is, in fact, all too typical of the condonation of an ongoing pattern of lax spending controls, bad behaviour, personal indiscretions and generally poor management of the State’s finances — a lamentable record that is facilitated and at least partly by apathy.

To be honest, this apathy is plain disgusting. We will be forthright as ever, and not mince our words.

The people’s move to snub the pre-budget consultations that will input into next year’s spending plan is plain disgusting. It causes serious indignation.

We cannot understand why people are not going to these consultations to tell the portfolio committee how they want their hard-earned money used by the State, why they are not at the meetings, demanding to know the truth about what happened to finances this year, after the budget was slashed by almost half-a-billion dollars.

The government operates on a meagre $4 billion budget. Yet how many residents can claim they attended the ongoing consultations to demand more funding or propose new revenue streams?

Public views gathered during the consultations are supposed to form part of the portfolio committee’s report to be tabled at Parliament’s pre-budget seminar which will be held at the Elephant Hills Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Falls from October 30 to November 3.

This year’s report, like previous ones that suffered unprecedented apathy, will not contain any input from the people after this useless cross-country touring that has suffered apathy.

The committee must be spoilt for choice in terms of proposals and must consider several submissions and hear from several Zimbabweans.

Yet we have chosen to disengage from this important process! Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said the 2016 budget will focus on economic growth, reducing the deficit and returning to balanced budgets.

It’s not his call; it must be everyone’s responsibility.  We hope we start bumping up the numbers at these consultations so that we shape the budget we want for 2016. We are fond of complaining yet we do not participate in processes that shape our future. Why?

 

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