Tuesday, August 07, 2007
By Joan Chirwa
Tuesday August 07, 2007 [04:00]
TRANSPARENCY International Zambia executive director Goodwell Lungu has advised the government to put in place transparent systems that would promote the economic empowerment of citizens. And Lungu has called for the adequate prevention of financial irregularities as reported by the Auditor General’s reports.
In an interview at the just ended 81st Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka, Lungu said there could not be meaningful economic empowerment without creating transparent systems at every level of government operations.
He was commenting on the theme for this year’s agricultural show which focused on the people’s economic empowerment.
“We should look at the promotion of transparent and accountable systems which is the route to economic empowerment. We have observed that quite a number of systems are not transparent and they are hindering the economic empowerment of our people,” Lungu said.
“Once these systems are taken care of, citizens will definitely start getting the benefits of economic empowerment.”
And Lungu said there was need to put in place strict measures that could prevent the misuse of public resources by public workers.
He said the trend of having unaccounted-for money by different ministries was hindering the economic empowerment of citizens in the country.
“The situation has not been arrested despite irregularities being highlighted by the Auditor General year-in-year-out. Government should find ways and means of preventing such occurrences,” Lungu said. “For example, the Ministry of Works and Supply is said to have a lot of contracts that were not completed at the end of 2005. The ministry went beyond in paying contractors by about a billion kwacha. This creates a hindrance to economic development because we still have bad roads and in some areas, there are no bridges.”
Lungu further said good and adequate infrastructure was a critical component to economic development.
“The bad infrastructure we have is as a result of money going to waste. The Ministry of Works said the reason for such irregularities is because the Ministry of Finance is not able to release money on time, hence the contractors are surcharging the ministry,” Lungu said. “It is therefore important to have adequate funding in the budget and quick disbursement of funds to avoid over-payment of these contractors.”