—-The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) says lack of accountability in the management of public resources has the potential to damage the image of the country in winning investor and donor confidence.
CSPR Programme Manager, Isabel Mukelabai, says this also discourages and demoralises hard working and honest citizens from paying tax and destroys people’s confidence in democratic and economic governance.
Ms Mukelabai says it is imperative, therefore, that financial management systems are strengthened to deal with recurring issues, such as unretired imprest, which continue appearing across all heads of expenditure.
The CSPR Programme Manager was speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka today to analyse the 2011 Auditor General’s Report.
He said Government, through all controlling officers, must ensure that all imprest is retired by staff within the stipulated timeframe in line with regulations.
The CSPR Programmes Manager also stated that controlling officers and their respective supervisors must also ensure adherence to the laws and regulations guiding the use of public resources to ensure maximum benefits of resources to the citizens through prudence, efficiency and effectiveness.
She said it is imperative for government to demonstrate to the Zambian people prudence in managing public funds entrusted to them by sealing all loopholes that allow for ministries, provinces and all spending agencies to abuse public resources.
Ms Mukelabai said this must be followed by stern action and prosecution of those found to have abused public funds to recover the much-needed resources.
She said there is also need to have a law in place that will enable the Public Accounts Committee, Parliament and Law enforcement agencies to summon, question and prosecute the controlling officers that had authorised the abuse of resources irrespective of whether they have moved or not.
She said though the 2011 Auditor General’s Report has shown a reduction in the misuse of public funds, unaccounted for revenue, funds, failure to follow procurement procedures, undelivered materials and non-submission of expenditure returns increased during the period under review.
A comparison of the 2011 and 2010 report shows that misapplication of public funds reduced from K221 billion (old currency) in 2010 to K24 billion in 2011 with unretired imprest from K77 billion to K33 billion.
Irregular payments reduced from K10 million to K4 billion, non-recovery of loans and advances reduced from K10 billion to K3.5 billion, unauthorised expenditure reduced from K4.8 billion to K0.5 billion, over payments reduced from K132 million to K6 million and excess expenditure reduced from K814 billion to K456 billion.
However, unaccounted for revenue increased from almost K2 billion to K532 billion while irregularities related to failure to follow procurement procedures increased from about K2.5 billion to K4.7 billion.
Loss through un-delivered materials also increased from K646 million to about K2.1 billion with non-submission of expenditure returns also increased to K27 billion in 2011 from K3 billion in 2010.
Speaking at the same event, Action Aid International Zambia Country Director, Pamela Chisanga, noted that poor revenue collection from sectors such, as the mines, has negatively impacted on the working poor.
Ms Chisanga stated that workers were subjected to paying a lot of taxes through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) when mining companies were not paying enough.