Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government has not given up on the Premier Service Medical Aid Society and will pour money into the institution once those seconded to clean-up the mess complete their work, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, said it was unfair for people to “heap” blame on the Government for the problems that have over the months affected the medical insurance firm.
Minister Chinamasa said this in the National Assembly while responding to a question from Bulawayo Metropolitan MP, Dr Ruth Labode (MDC-T), who asked why Government was not remitting employee subscriptions.
Dr Labode who is also chairperson for the Health committee, said several medical doctors and health institutions had written to her indicating that PSMAS was failing to pay health service providers owing to non remittance of subscriptions by the Government.
“Government is not giving up on PSMAS and we have demonstrated our commitment to the future of it by rooting up the corruption that was there and restructuring management. Government has seconded it’s staff to start cleaning the finances of PSMAS and we hope that once this exercise is complete, we will be able to put money on it,” Minister Chinamasa said.
This prompted several legislators to ask if the Government wanted to first bring sanity to PSMAS before putting money as in the meantime people were dying owing to failure to get health services.
“I detect a sense that the whole blame is now being heaped on Government. It’s not correct. But clearly we will address that issue,” he said.
Responding to another question Minister Chinamasa said there was need to enhance production to widen the tax base so that Zimbabwe would be able to meet its national and international obligations such as payment of salaries for civil servants on time.
Bulawayo Central MP, Ms Dorcas Sibanda (MDC-T), had asked what Government was doing to address payment of civil servants salaries in a consistent manner so that pay dates were not consistently moved.
Minister Chinamasa said there was no quick fix to maintain the country’s commitment both locally and internationally except to enhance production that would boost the tax base.
Responding to another question, Minister Chinamasa said the Government had agreed to reduce diamond polishing and cutting fees from the current US$100 000 level to a yet to be ascertained figure.
Buhera North MP, Cde William Mutomba (Zanu-PF), had asked about Government’s position on diamond cutters who paid US$20 000 fees but failed to top up the fees which was eventually increased to US$100 000.
“We agreed with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that we should not set fees that are prohibitive. The US$100 000 fee will go down. We want them to be affordable to the new incoming player,” said Minister Chinamasa without giving the agreed figure.
Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe’s biggest projects were being undertaken by Chinese companies, an indication that the Asian country was committed to the development of this country.
He was responding to a question from Hurungwe West MP, Cde Temba Mliswa (Zanu-PF), who asked whether the country had drawn meaningful benefits from China.
“If there is something serious happening in the country it is through the Chinese. It is a strong relationship,” said Minister Chinamasa.