THE Civil Society for Poverty Reduction has appealed to the government to ensure that the planning and budgeting bill is tabled before Parliament and consequently enacted into law as one way of heightening the national budget’s credibility.
According to a press statement from the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday, finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe has issued a Statutory Instrument (SI) that brings into effect the public finance management Act in an effort to improve accountability of public resources.
The public finance management Act No. 1 of 2018 now becomes the principal Act on public financial management and offers more guidance on management in that regard.
Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) executive director Patrick Nshindano explained that the loans and guarantees bill as well as the planning and budgeting Act ought to be enacted into law urgently.
“We are pleased to see the public finance management Act being enacted into law. But the critical bill…This is why we saying we are leaving a number of critical bills that we should be pushing with urgency and this is the planning and budgeting Bill. If you read all these reports, you will see that they are co-related to that – you will get issues to do with appraisals, projects without feasibility studies. All that is contained in the planning and budgeting bill. If we had the planning and budgeting bill, it will be able to take away some of these aspects that we are now crying for as being revelations in the FIC report (Financial Intelligence Centre), as being revelation in the Auditor General’s report, outside budget expenditures and lack of budget credibility and issues to do with debts that we are crying about,” Nshindano said during a media briefing at Cresta Golf view Hotel in Lusaka.
“So, we need to ensure that critical laws such as the planning and budgeting Bill are brought forward, the loans and guarantees bill is brought forward. There is no policy that is going to compel anybody in the executive to do t he right thing. But the law will be able to do that.”
He noted that while the government was now talking about having a medium-term debt strategy in place that would ensure proper management of public debts, there was no piece of legislation to compel the Minister of Finance to do so.
“We need the loans and guarantees Act that is going to ensure that somebody is held accountable and it’s important that we push for these legislations. Our appeal to the government, the executive specifically, please push [for] these bills; Parliament will be resuming sittings on the 12th of June. Can we have these critical bills tabled before Parliament so that even us the civil society is not accused of always saying ‘there is corruption, this has not been done or there is over-expenditure in this particular year.’ We have the opportunity to do the right thing! We have a very progressive Seventh National Development Plan that will only be realised if it’s backed by law and [being] backed by law is through the planning and budgeting Bill,” said Nshindano