STATE owned hospitals have an outstanding debt of US$32 million to suppliers of medicines, equipment and utilities, Parliamentarians heard on Monday.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Giving oral evidence before the Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Health Ministry Finance Director Mrs Heather Machamire said they have managed to reduce arrears owed to creditors from US$70 million in 2016 to US$32 million.
“We have seen a major reduction from US$70 million in 2016 that our auditor is referring to in 2016 to US$32 million currently outstanding right now. And we will continue to clear these as and when we receive funding from treasury. What we have also done is we have submitted to you our budgets to show what kind of support we have been getting from the ministry of finance. And our budgets have been inadequate for us to only pay off some of our creditors,” she said.
She added that these creditors were, “…mostly utilities, some drugs, then rates as well.” Mrs Machamire was optimistic that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development would chip in to clear the 2018 arrears.
She further explained that towards year end, they were told by treasury to reverse transactions done given the alibi that there was no money to cover the payments.
“What has happened throughout the years is Ministry of Finance has made a release in the system and we can only spend when a release has been made in the system. However, towards the end of the year, when these systems are now waiting for a payment, Ministry of Finance has asked us to reverse because there was no money to actually take care of these payments.
“So it has been very difficult for our institutions to actually deal with the suppliers because the suppliers do not want to deal with us because of our issues,” said Mrs Machamire. “ But like I said we continue to get support from the Ministry of Finance and yes from our budget, the bluebook, it will seem as if we don’t have anything from prior years because we have been using the cash budget. But now that government is using the accrual system, you will see that the US$32 million is going to be taken on board and it will be clearly shown on our books with the way government is now moving.”