PARLIAMENTARIANS have implored Treasury to avail the required funds to complete the country’s digitalisation programme which is three years behind schedule.
In its post 2019 budget report, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Publicity and Media Services said the digitalisation programme was behind schedule and the allocated funds were inadequate.
“The committee noted with concern that the funding provided by Treasury is inadequate for the Ministry to achieve its set objectives for the fiscal year, especially the digitalisation project that is already three years behind schedule.
“We recommend that the shortfall of $61,67 million of the Ministry’s bid of $100 million for the completion of the digitalisation programme be availed. The Ministry was allocated $38,33 million which translates to only 38 percent of the bid,” said the chairperson of the committee MP Settlement Chikwinya.
The chairperson, who is also MP for Mbizo constituency in Kwekwe, said the implementation of the programme was behind schedule and should be completed by December 31, 2019 as this is a priority goal for the Ministry.
He said funds allocated to the Ministry should be disbursed timeously so that it can effectively execute its mandate.
“The digitalisation programme is critical in marketing the country to the outside world. The funds that the Ministry ask for should therefore be availed for it to perform its functions efficiently and be able to sponsor and host opinion drivers from foreign countries.
“There is also an outstanding amount of $6 million for the digitalisation project that was not disbursed in the 2018 fiscal year, making it difficult for the Ministry to perform its duties,” said Mr Chikwinya. He said the committee also recommended that all boards of parastatals under the Ministry be constituted and the Zimbabwe Media Commissioners be appointed by the first quarter of 2019 for purposes of good governance and accountability.
Mr Chikwinya added that the Acts administered by the Ministry should be aligned to the Constitution by not later than the second quarter of 2019
“The Ministry’s budget needs to be reviewed upwards by $7,5 million to enable it to purchase new vehicles as the old fleet has become expensive to maintain. The Ministry needs $840 132 per year for the maintenance of their fleet of 81 vehicles which is a huge amount.
“The Ministry also needs vehicles for District and Provincial Information Officers as they are the focal persons at these levels. They have to be visible at Government functions as they play a critical role in rebranding the country’s image,” said Mr Chikwinya.