AG Report: Treasury only Released 1% of the Health Budget

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in 2019 only released one percent of funds allocated to the Ministry of Health and Child Care for implementation of key programmes, which contributed to the deplorable state of the sector.

The one percent allocation was below the target specified in the Abuja Declaration, where at least 15 percent of the country’s national budget must be channelled towards the health sector. In April 2001, African Union countries including Zimbabwe met and pledged to implement that target in order to improve health systems in their respective countries.

But, as seen in the 2019 Auditor-General Report compiled by Mildred Chiri, the finance ministry only released $2 137 277 out of $155 464 000, which the Ministry of Health and Child Care had budgeted for to implement key programmes.

“My analysis of the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s 2019 budget consumption report showed that the Ministry had budgeted $155 464 000 for implementation of key programmes including the procurement of ambulances, provision of water at referral centres like Sally Mugabe Hospital, medical equipment and refurbishment of health institutions. However, I noted that only $2 137 277 (one percent) was utilised on construction works of four provincial hospitals. The other key programmes were not carried out due to non-release of funds by the Treasury, thus the Ministry was unable to fulfil its mandate of providing health care services to the Zimbabwean nation.”

Auditor General

The Auditor-General noted that failure to implement key programmes as budgeted and approved by Parliament would defeat the whole purpose of budgeting.

Chiri added that “non-implementation of these key programmes may result in the Ministry failing to fulfil its mandate of providing health services to the nation. The Ministry should strive to implement key programmes and continue to lobby for resources from the Treasury.”

The Auditor-General also noted how the provision of health service delivery continues to deteriorate, posing a health risk.

“Masvingo Provincial Hospital had expired dangerous/classified drugs not disposed of contrary to section 90 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23] which requires disposal of all obsolete, surplus, and unserviceable assets. The drugs had expired between the years 1995 and 2019,” reads the report.

In addition, the Auditor General was not availed with application letters for disposal of expired drugs worth $31 696 after board of surveys had been conducted in April and November 2019.

“It was also not clear whether the hospital had applied for such authority after the board of survey was conducted. Marondera Provincial Hospital was granted authority to dispose of expired drugs worth $7 140 on July 26, 2019. However, as at the time of the audit, the expired drugs were still at the hospital,” said the auditor general.

Addressing members of the press in Bulawayo in early June this year, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube boasted how the government had managed to meet the Abuja Declaration target in 2020.

“I have said this in parliament that in 2020 we met the Abuja target of 15 percent of the national budget being focused on health. If you add up what we did due to the Covid-19 response we ended up at 20 percent going to health last year. It’s a major, major issue,” he said.

“In fact when I look at the overall just in terms of the expenditure driven by Covid in 2020 we spent close to ZWL$25 billion way above the health sector budget.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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