Govt to raise $293m from retention funds
Treasury is set to raise $293 million next year when it compels all Revenue Retention Funds to be appropriated by Parliament, as it moves to halt abuse of funds, a Cabinet minister has said.
BY NDAMU SANDU
The funds should also be accounted for through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) and integrated into the Budget documentation, Finance and Economic Development minister Ignatius Chombo said last week.
Government ministries and departments were holding onto the revenue collected through fees, fines and user charges and would splurge that on trinkets like cars at a time critical sectors like health lack adequate funding.
Briefing legislators at a pre-budget meeting last week, Chombo said in a move to strengthen accountability and transparency over public resources, Treasury “from the 2018 Budget, will require that all Revenue Retention Funds are appropriated by Parliament, and accounted for through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) and integrated into the Budget documentation”.
It is estimated that the total revenues collected by government institutions and departments outside the budget could have surpassed $1 billion last year.
This, the Parliament Budget Office said, includes revenues from fines and user charges collected by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe National Road Administration, Environmental Management Agency, Judicial Services Commission and the Registrar-General’s Offices, among other agencies.
“This comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s budget has remained static at $4 billion annually as fiscal revenues continue to dwindle. This situation has eroded the stimulus power of the budget to propel the economy and move the country to middle income status,” the office said.
It said the increase in cases of abuse of public funds justified calls for Treasury to be the only department entrusted with the responsibilities to manage public resources.
“It has also been noted that a lot of money is spent on non-essential goods and services at the expense of critical issues. This is the highest level of disservice to the citizens and taxpayers when privileged departments splash on luxuries like cars while critical service provision like health delivery are underfunded to the extent of failing to provide basic painkillers,” the office said.
Section 18 of the Public Finance Management Act empowers Treasury to establish funds in cases where the minister deems it desirable for the purpose of improving service delivery.