WE ARE KEEPING A WATCHFUL EYE ON PUBLIC SPENDING

Wednesday, 15 March, 2017

According to the budget implementation reconciliation report done last Friday, the Treasury has released K1.12 Billion funding for February and part of March 2017, for developmental programs and government operations. Of the funds released, K130 million was for payment of pension related matters, K74 million for grants to local authorities, and K25.8 million for bursaries in various public universities. K20 million was been released to the National Road Fund Agency for roads, bringing the total releases to the road sector since January 2017 to K356 million.

Commenting on the reconciliation report, Minister of Finance Felix Mutati has said the government will continue to do its best to ensure that the stock of domestic arrears is dismantled. The Minister said this in relation to the accumulated K177.5 million which has been released by the Treasury between January, 2017 and March, 2017 specifically targeted at dismantling pension arrears.

“My office is keeping a watchful eye on public spending to ensure that there is no accrue of unbudgeted expenditure and that arrears are reduced and eventually dismantled,” said Mr. Mutati.

Recently, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba assured an Economics Association of Zambia assemblage in Lusaka that financial discipline and fiscal consolidation remain key to the Government and that they will continue to receive strengthened attention in the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme.

Mr. Yamba told the gathering that in order to strengthen fiscal discipline, Government was currently reviewing various pieces of legislation which the Minister of Finance is expected to table before current session of Parliament.

Among the pieces of legislation being considered are the Planning and Budgeting Bill, the Public Finance Management Bill, the Loans and Guarantees Authorization Act and the Public Procurement Act. The Planning and Budgeting Bill, will among other things, enhance budget credibility and ensure that budget execution adheres to approved plans and appropriations.

During the EAZ gathering, Mr. Yamba said the Bill will better integrate the planning and budget processes and strengthen oversight mechanisms of the National Assembly over planning and budget processes.

With regard to concerns captured in the Auditor General’s report about the application of some funds in the public sector, the Secretary to the Treasury said the Public Finance Act of 2004 was being reviewed and that among the progressive clauses in the proposed Bill was the provision for punitive measures against errant public officials.

“The Loans and Guarantees Authorisation Act will be amended to ensure harmonisation with the provisions of the Constitution in terms of procurement of public debt,” and clarified that, “under the new constitution, public debt will have to be approved by the National Assembly before it is contracted.

Mr. Yamba also informed the gathering that the Zambia Public Procurement Act of 2008 was also being amended to bring about efficiency in public procurement and ensure value for money.

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