By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) says their general view of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) 2020 report is appallingly shallow.
TI-Z Chapter President Sampa Kalungu said the report is lacking in detail and way too generalized to be of any meaningful value for effective public or stakeholder engagement.
Mr Kalungu said it also lacks follow up action that would be required to address the issues it has attempted to report on.
“We have reached this conclusion due to a number of reasons, which we are very happy to elaborate on, we have noted with deep concern that the 2020 FIC report is in fact not a Trends Analysis report but merely an annual report.
“TI-Z would like to bring to the public’s attention the fact that the FIC has produced a Trends Analysis report every single year since 2015, with the 2019 one that was released last year being the 6th Trends Analysis report that has been produced,” he said.
Mr Kalungu said the 2020 annual report has provided a lot of information focusing merely on numbers without going into the details behind the numbers.
“There is for example mention of the 18 analyzed reports of corruption with a value of K2.2 million. The report is piercingly silent on what the individual composition of these 18 reports is. Who is involved in these cases? What is their nature exactly?” he questioned.
Mr Kalungu said the 2020 report does not provide any details on how issues reported in the 2019 Trends Analysis report have been followed up, making it likely that the issues have merely been brushed aside and not been addressed at all.
“For instance, one of the key issues raised in the 2019 Trends Analysis report was the environmental crimes in relation to the Mukula tree trade.
The 2019 report made three key recommendations for government to implement, along with many other recommendations touching on tax evasion, corruption, and use of cash in commerce, among others, none of these recommendations have been reported on in this 2020 report,” he said.
Mr Kalungu said this also effectively makes the 2020 report a baseless output that does not make any reference to baseline data of any sort to inform any reported progress on the current issues it has raised.
“Zambians will recall that in the wake of the release of that report, whose contents did not sit well with government, President Edgar Lungu publicly attacked the FIC and accused it of spreading rumors and being on a witch hunt which was poisoning the country,” he said.
Mr Kalungu said despite these glaring weaknesses in the 2020 report, TI-Z applauds the increase in the reports of suspected corruption to the FIC, which supports the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistle Blowers) Act.
“We also note the challenge of low staffing levels mentioned in the report, and therefore urge government to provide adequate resources to enable the FIC not only to have the required staffing levels, but to also be equipped with modern and appropriate capacities and skills to deal with different dimensions of corruption,” he said.
Mr Kalungu says TI-Z has called for the refinement of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act to give the FIC an enhanced mandate to enforce its findings.
This is according to a statement issued by Zamtel’s corporate communications manager Changwe Kabwe.