Zambia’s public financial accountability still an issue

Public financial accountability is an issue raised every year with a focus on how the previous financial year performed.  The accountability issues largely look at government spending because lately it has been spending more than what was budgeted for. A Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework report for 2017 has indicated an improvement in policy reforms to reduce unplanned expenditure.

Since 2000, government has been implementing policy reforms to ensure good Public Financial Management (PFM). The introduction of a single treasury account for easy monitoring of public expenditure is one of the reforms that have been put in place.

Under the single treasury account, introduction of the Integrated Financial Management Systems is expected to reduce the misuse of funds from line ministries.

Speaking during the launch of the report, Finance Minister Felix Mutati noted that there has been mismanagement of funds by line ministries.

The minister said the impact of the budget execution has not been very effective as line ministries have spent more funds than they budgeted. He revealed that funds directed to poverty reduction projects had been directed to workshops and trips in some ministries.

According to the Auditor General’s report the ministry of education is one of the ministries that misused funds directed to institutions of higher learning.

The minister further emphasized the need to reduce unnecessary expenditure in the procurement process.

He said, “we need to purify procurement. We don’t need to procure in whispers because procurement is of public good.”

Meanwhile the report shows that there is poor management of public investment.

“There is currently no system in place to coordinate and oversee major public investment. Economic analyses are not conducted for major investment projects, guidelines are in draft form and major investment projects are not assessed or reviewed by an entity other than the sponsoring entity,” the report said.

Without policies that make line ministries accountable on their expenditure, funds directed to poverty reducing projects will continue being misused.

 

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Author: Levy Syanseke

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