Parliament is broke!

parliament_demoBULAWAYO Zimbabwes cash-strapped Parliament is struggling to pay service providers a US$400 000 debt incurred by legislators on official business, as the countrys coalition government continues to face budgetary constraints that have impacted negatively on key operations.

Parliament owes more than US$400 000 to service providers, Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said on Tuesday, confirming that the legislature was facing financial problems.

Zvoma said the running costs far outweighed resource allocation and that service providers such as hotels and Air Zimbabwe were among entities owed money by Parliament.

The House is responsible for the expenses incurred by Members of Parliament whenever they are on official business and these include airfares and other transport costs, hotel bookings and meals.

Sources who spoke to ZimOnline on condition that they were not named said Parliament recently paid more than US$10 000 in bills for the Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyos stay in the five star Meikles Hotel in Harare.

Moyo, who is based in Bulawayo, stayed at the hotel whenever he came to Harare on official business until Parliament found him suitable accommodation. Parliament is now renting a house for him that is understood to cost US$1 800 a month.

Sources said Parliaments woes were a result of inadequate funding from Treasury since the institution has not received all the money it was allocated in the 2009 national budget.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti set aside US$7 102 200 for Parliaments operations in March but it is understood that less than half of the amount has been released.

The sources said the financial situation has seen Parliament failing to carry out some of its urgent business such as holding portfolio committee meetings.

Portfolio committees play an oversight role for the Executive ensuring government departments and other public sector organisations stick to their mandates.

However, Zvoma dismissed these claims, saying the committees were not meeting because Parliament was not in session. The reason they are not sitting is because Parliament has adjourned because the current session has ended, he said.

Biti is on record as saying the unity government is bankrupt after years of recession, while rich Western nations are reluctant to provide direct financial support to the government insisting on more reforms first including at the central bank.

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