The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, has assured the nation that there will be transparency in the deployment of the US$961 million Zimbabwe received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) through the institution’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR).
Last week, the Government announced that it received the equivalent of US$961 in SDR from IMFund, as part of US$650 billion the Bretton Woods Institution is distributing to its members.
Speaking during an interview on the Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) Prof Ncube assured citizens that the funds will be used transparently as the Second Republic has a history of prudent use of public funds.
“The Second Republic has a history of transparency and prudent use of public funds. That is why from year to year we have been able to run basically a balanced budget. Actually, that is proof that we are able to manage public resources properly. So, I can assure Zimbabweans that we will do the same thing with the SDRs. They will be managed transparently, prudently and deployed carefully, but also where we will have the best bang for the buck to use a colloquial phrase,” he said.
He said the Government has already been releasing information quarterly through the 100-day programme on how they have been using resources on projects through post-Cabinet briefings, so the same will be done with SDRs.
Prof Ncube said they will follow the three months cycle or quarterly to update citizens on the deployment of the funds.
“There are four areas where these funds will be allocated, the social sector, the productive sector, infrastructure sector and then support for reserves and contingency funding. For the first component, which is the social sector the money will be placed in three areas, the sub-areas being the health sector, education sector and support for the vulnerable.”
Prof Ncube said for the health sector there would be resources allocated for acquisition of more vaccines, while the country currently has 13 million that include donations and about another seven million to go. He said more were coming but they could go beyond that to acquire more vaccines.
“We have done very well so far, so that’s the first thing under health. The second thing is to keep upgrading our central hospitals and some hospitals in the health infrastructure, which has been slow to be completed,” he said.
Prof Ncube said the Government was also working on equipping hospitals. In terms of education, he said the Government wanted to do something that was very important in rural areas, to move children to boarding schools so as to reduce their walking distance to and from school on a daily basis. Prof Ncube said the idea was to build one boarding high school per province in the eight rural provinces.
“What has happened in the last 40 years is that we have got some boarding schools, but these are mainly owned by churches, and not by Government. We are saying Government must have skin in the game and invest, then equip these schools as well. Make sure there is power so that we can use Information and Communication Technology support for learning purposes and also there is water,” he added.
Prof Ncube said there would be an allocation of a social safety net for the social protection of the vulnerable, the disabled, elderly, youth among others through a cash form work programme. He said for the productive sectors allocation will be made for industry, agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“A sizeable amount of allocation will be made for these sectors. For agriculture we are looking at pushing the horticulture sector by creating a revolving fund to resuscitate it through a line of credit to finance farmers’ activities so that they can export,” he said.
The minister said they are going to invest in irrigation systems that will see irrigation schemes becoming climate proof and water getting to the farmers. He said for the manufacturing sector, the Government wanted to support it through a revolving fund for retooling purposes so as to develop the value chains further and fill in the gaps in some of the value chains.
Prof Ncube said for the mining sector, the Government was going to set up a revolving fund that will allow small-scale gold producers to buy equipment as they accounted for 60 percent gold deliveries in the country.
He said the remainder would be kept and converted to support the country’s reserves.