Norton Independent Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa says it is worrying that Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube delays disbursements of money for Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) but is quick to disburse money to pay corrupt deals.

“This question must be directed to the Minister of Finance as to why the Ministry disburses funds for BEAM late.

“I think if the Ministry of Finance can respond to that because that is Treasury but when it comes to money for corrupt activities like devolution, fire tenders, the money is released quickly yet for what you have budgeted for, it is not released,” said Mliswa.

He said for Parliament to get proper answers on BEAM disbursements the question must be directed to the Minister of Finance which should answer as to why it disburses money late.

Mliswa made these remarks in Parliament today, in support of fellow legislator, Elias Musakwa who had asked the question directing it to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

“My question is what is the Government policy position on providing bridging finance to schools whose enrolment is 80% or 90% and even 100% funded by BEAM, considering that these funds take long to be released and schools are incapacitated at the beginning of the year until September, October when the BEAM is released?

“They have no funding to finance their activities. For instance in my constituency, I have got schools like Bikita, Masunda, Mashavhi, Ngwedyere and many others. So I need to know the policy position in relation to making sure that these schools function normally,” said Musakwa.

Apparently in response deputy Minister of Finance Clemence Chiduwa said with regards to BEAM, when the schools opened for the first term of the year, the disbursement was very timely.

“I think it is important for the Hon. Members who raised the issue with regard to these disbursements; the first term the disbursement was very timely and it is one of the first social protection funds that we released early, around February.

“With regards to outstanding fees, I think this is an issue of principle. Where we have committed ourselves to say we are going to pay, we are going to pay and if there are any schools where the disbursements have not been done, I think it may also be a question of the submission of requests to Ministry of Finance,” he said.

He further pointed out that with regards to how the funds are released, Treasury first of all deal with a request which is coming from the responsible Ministry.

“After the request, we do a budget release and when the budget release is done, we do a pay run and when the pay run is done then we do cash release. We can only do the budget release when there is a request. Why is it like that – it is because as a Government, the moment we are running a cash budget we only release when there is cash.

“So if there are any late disbursements, it is probably because of the way we are managing our expenditures. We only eat what we harvest, this is where we are,” he said.

However, Mliswa came back saying the Minister must be honest.

“Is it the ministries that are incompetent because you are basically saying that there is nothing coming to us, so we cannot release.

“Is it your admission that the ministries are incompetent, there is nothing coming through to Treasury and as a result, you cannot release money?

“What you are saying is that these departments know their needs and you are there to release money; you are ready to release money if the needs come to you.

“Is it your position that these ministries are incompetent in terms of what they are doing? My question was timeous disbursement of money and you are saying no the money is there but it is not.

“In terms of the devolution funds which Hon. Chombo said that there was no enabling Act for devolution, you then released money.

“Now I do not know – where there is no law you release money and where everything is in order you are incompetent. Can you tell this august House which is which?

“You are skating around but no, you are a young honest man who certainly owes the nation and your constituency the truth at this moment. May you please tell the truth?” asked Mliswa.

In response Chiduwa said:

“Thank you Madam Speaker. What I explained is the standard budgetary process that we go through as Treasury and as Government, and that process has got nothing to do with us measuring the competence of specific Ministers or ministries.

“So, I do not have the powers to determine who is competent and who is not.

“What I stated is that the standard budgetary process, and even if the budget has been released and approved here in Parliament, we only release upon request. If specific ministries and departments do not request their budgets, we are not going to release. The release is based on request, I submit.”