By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Action Aid Zambia (AAZ) has commended the move by government to engage independent auditing firms in undertaking comprehensive processes related to accumulation and audit arrears in various public institutions.
AAZ Country Director Nalucha Ziba said the move will allow government together with the private sector to prudently carry out audits.
She said that the move is long overdue given the tight fiscal space and unsustainable public debt the country is facing
Ms Ziba also said the move is overdue given the tight fiscal space and unsustainable public debt the country is currently facing.
She said the public debt can partly be attributed to the drastic increase of domestic arrears from K41 billion in December 2020 to K76.6 billion in September 2021.
“AAZ welcomes the move by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning in collaboration with the Officer of the Auditor General to engage independent auditing firms to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the processes related to the accumulation and audit of domestic arrears that various public institutions owe suppliers for goods and services,” she said.
Ms Ziba said since 2016, the Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) trends report cited the linkage between corruption and public procurement contracts, mainly perpetrated by political exposed persons
“The failure to efficiently procure goods and services has led to the inflation of contracts, poor delivery of work and overall lack of transparency and accountability,” she said.
Ms Ziba said despite the revision of the Public Procurement Act (2020) and subsequent efforts made by the government to mitigate these problems, domestic arrears have continued to accumulate.
“The private sectors, Small Medium Enterprises (SME’s) have found themselves stifled by the failures of government to dismantle their debts. Upon completion, the domestic debt audit would allow the government to prudently payout these small local businesses that would in the long run stimulate growth and employment,” she said.
Ms Ziba has since commended the approval of the Public Debt Management Bill (2022) that would improve contraction, thus aligning the legal framework to the constitution.