The budgetary process for effective performance of universities in a resource stricken economy: a conceptual framework

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Sound budgetary processes form the bedrock of public expenditure in public institutions. This article proposes a conceptual budgetary framework for public universities in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s public universities have been under fiscal stress due to the country’s harsh economic environment for close to three decades without any sign of improvement to the extent that there is a need to rethink the public university’s budgetary processes. To achieve this, the article draws from the early open systems theory by Ludwig von Bertanlanffy (1956), as revised by Gibran and Sekwat’s (2009). The basis of drawing from the system theory is that public universities ought to operate as a system if they are to remain sustainable amidst harsh persistent economic environment. The article peruses the intricacies of the current Zimbabwean legislative framework on public expenditure, the relevant Ministry of Finance statutes, as well as the standing budgetary process for public universities, giving birth to the proposed conceptual framework. By perusing various statutes on public expenditure, the article responds to the fundamental budgetary concerns of financial planning, forecasting, efficiency, transparency and accountability in harsh economic environment within the context of Zimbabwe’s public universities. The proposed framework, if adopted, could address or minimize the budgetary challenges facing public universities in Zimbabwe. It concludes by illustrating the operationalization of the proposed budgetary framework.

Keywords: budgetary process, public expenditure, public university, economic environment, ministry of finance, legislative framework.
JEL Classification: G31, H51, F64

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