Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rampant abuse of resources justifies retaining ‘abuse of office’ clause - NGOCC

Rampant abuse of resources justifies retaining ‘abuse of office’ clause - NGOCC
By Chibaula Silwamba
Sat 21 Aug. 2010, 04:01 CAT

THE Auditor General’s revelation of rampant abuse of public resources in parastatals justifies the public’s demands to retain the abuse of office clause in the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act, Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director Engwase Mwale said yesterday.

Commenting on the Auditor General’s report that revealed financial irregularities of over K1 trillion with 95 per cent being non remittance of statutory contributions, Mwale said there was need to strengthen the ACC to curb siphoning of public resources.

“At the pace that our country is going in terms of reported fraudulent activities especially in parastatal institutions, it is alarming and very detrimental to the development of our country. It is important that the government must prioritise the work of the Anti Corruption Commission,” Mwale said.

“In this vein we want to reiterate that the provision of the abuse of office is quite an important part of the (ACC) Act. Government maneuvers to remove this particular clause will be taking our country backward especially looking at what is being reported in the Auditor General’s report that people are rampantly abusing their offices in terms of siphoning of resources from public institutions.”

She said it was for that reason that the abuse of office clause should be strengthened to provide policy mechanism to improve upon the accountability of public offices.

Mwale queried parastals’ failure to remit taxes to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), pensions and insurance bodies.

“When individuals or privates companies are not paying up their taxes these institutions ZRA are quite active in pursuing the divisions but it is so surprising that similar energies are not being shown in order to pursue these parastatals and public institutions when they are not paying up their tax remittance,” Mwale said.

“It is important that government must ensure that there is equity when it comes to tax remittances and pension contributions so that at the end of the day all individuals are held accountable but also equally benefit.”

She said it was unfair to see individuals fined heavy penalties for delays to remit taxes or pension contributions.

She said the cash flow problems of pensions and insurance bodies emanate from parastatal institutions that were not paying their dues.

“The revelations by the Auditor General’s report with regards to public institutions and parastatals make sad reading for us as NGOCC,” she said.

Mwale said the civil society had demanded that the governments back the Task Force on Corruption with the law but the government decided to make it a loose body.

She said the fact that the Task Force on Corruption was not legalized, it might not have had policy mechanism of expenditure hence the reports about failure to properly manage public funds.

Mwale also expressed concern about the government’s failure to make follow ups on the revelations of the Auditor General’s report.

“We, therefore, call upon the government to overhaul the entire public and parastatal management especially in the use of public funds,” said Mwale.

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