President Lungu bets on Public Financial Management Bill to Curb Corruption in Government
ZAMBIA’s republican President Edgar Lungu is has firmed up on the Public Financial Management Bill expected to be passed into law by mid -year 2018.
ZAMBIA’s republican President Edgar Lungu is has firmed up on the Public Financial Management Bill expected to be passed into law by mid -year 2018. Speaking during his public meeting on his tour of the Copperbelt Province, the Head of State lamented the against abuse of state resources to the extent of warning that he would dismiss Cabinet Ministers, if found wanting.
This was a repeated call within the same week as he had taken a similar stance when he graced the opening of the seminar for ministers and controlling officers at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka on 7th February. During the seminar themed: promoting ethical conduct, integrity and accountability in the public sector for enhanced public service delivery promoting prudent financial management practices, President Lungu said that he was aware of the duty bestowed on him by the Zambian people. The recently released Auditor General’s report which highlighted a sharp increase in miss-appropriation and miss-application of public funds from about K28million to over K162million under his watch in 2016. The Head of State and government repeated a concern over the irregular use of national resources.
"I am deeply concerned about these recurring financial irregularities and the wastage of public resources through inactivity by those charged with superintending over the nation’s resources," he repeated.
The Zambian leader acknowledged that he was aware that, there are complaints from stakeholders and the general public regarding the weak regulatory and legal framework on financial management.
“My government has taken note of these complaints and has embarked on implementing public financial management reforms in planning and budgeting, revenue administration, accounting and reporting, internal audit and control and public procurement to ensure and enshrine in law the prudent use of public resources," he said.
And to address the complaints, he stated that his government has prepared and submitted the public financial management bill (2017) to parliament to stiffen regulatory and sanction regime that will see fines and jail sentences of up to 5 years for offenders.
The President was hopeful that once this bill is enacted into law, it will compel accountability and transparency in the public sector.
President Lungu further announced other reforms that his government is working on to stem pilferage and wastage of government resources. He stated that to address the pricing of services procured by government; the state was revising the Zambia public procurement Act by amending the law to enhance efficiency and pre-load guidance pricing. Administration would shorten the lengthy tendering procedures and introduce measures to reduce wastage such as benchmarking of prices and works.
President Lungu cited the tendering process as one of the biggest irregularities pointed out by the Auditor-General report.
Relevant government agencies have been directed to expedite the bill tabling to law makers by the next sitting of parliament this month so as to accelerate enact it into law by June. He further announced and directed that all Government Ministries be on a single account for easy monitoring of national resources. “To strengthen commitment controls, a lot of work will go into migrating all ministries onto the Integrated Financial Management Information System - (IFMIS) and Treasury Single Account -TSA system.
The head of state further stated that his government will deliver automation of revenue collection. For tax and non-tax revenue collection government is automating the process to curb pilferage which is inherent in resource mobilisation. Ministries involved particularly in non-tax revenue collection will commence automation of revenues including the Ministry of Home Affairs particularly the Zambia Police Service.
On strengthening internal controls and audit, Zambia now has a Permanent Secretary in charge of Audit queries. The President recently upgraded the offices of the Accountant General and Controller of Internal Audit to Permanent Secretary level in a move aimed at enhancing internal controls, financial accounting and reporting.
The President expressed disappointment with lack of action by law enforcement agencies. He regretted noting that a number of cases raised by the Auditor-General and other agencies have not been acted upon which he did not understand why. He vividly stated that he does not like to be labelled a corrupt President or a shield for corrupt government
"I have a duty and responsibility which was conferred upon me by the people of Zambia to protect the nation’s resources. With this heavy responsibility, I have appointed you (cabinet ministers, permanent secretaries and government cost centre controlling officers) to assist me deliver on this very important mandate" President Lungu
His Excellency the President of Republic of Zambia Edgar Lungu