Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Debate on the 2018 National Budget resumed yesterday, with legislators imploring Government to reconsider its withdrawal of funding of Early Child Development (ECD) teachers given the importance of early learning. Presenting the Budget and Finance portfolio committee report, Bulawayo South MP Mr Eddie Cross (MDC-T) said his committee was concerned with the proposal by Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa, requesting parents to pay $36 million employment costs for new ECD teachers.
“Government should clarify its policy regarding kids undergoing two years of ECD training before starting Grade One.
“If this is the case, then Government should continue funding ECD, otherwise one year of ECD should be removed to lessen the burden on parents. Parents in some schools are already carrying the burden of constructing suitable facilities for ECD classes in addition to other contributions,” said Mr Cross while presenting the report.
“Leaving parents to foot the employment bill for ECD teachers can lead to income disparities between teachers at the same school and across schools.” The committee also bemoaned low budget allocation for health and Parliament of Zimbabwe, an assertion that was supported by several other legislators.
“The health sector was allocated 5,84 percent of the budget in 2018, down from about 6 percent in 2017 and the Abuja target (of 15 percent) remains an elusive dream. Of this allocation, only 17,6 percent is non-wage expenditure. In real terms, this implies that the country has allowed health service provision to deteriorate further from the 2017 levels,” reads the report presented by Mr Cross.
“The inadequate public financing of health has resulted in an over-reliance on out-of-pocket and external financing to fund procurement of drugs and medical equipment, among others, which is not pro-poor.” Presenting a report on the portfolio committee on Health and Child Care, Binga North MP Mr Prince Sibanda (MDC-T) said funding health was critical in that it affected ordinary persons.
“Ministers can go to be treated in Geneva, we are talking of ordinary persons in Murambinda and elsewhere,” said Mr Sibanda. Mudzi West MP, Cde Magna Mudyiwa (Zanu-PF) said there was no clarity on Government’s announcement that it would remove 3 000 youth officers from Government payroll.
She said Government had paid three months’ severance package to the youth officers in December, an indication that it would proceed to sever ties with them, only for the youth officers to be told to continue coming to work.