Monday, March 10, 2014

Chikwanda proposes single account for non-tax revenue
By Kabanda Chulu
Fri 06 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda has proposed that non-tax revenue collected by quasi-government institutions such as PACRA should be put in a consolidated account at Bank of Zambia to ensure transparency and accountability.

But there have been concerns that affected institutions would face operational challenges and might even fail to retain qualified staff if funding is delayed from the government.

Moving the motion to amend the Competition and Consumer Protection, the Environmental Management, the Fees and Fines, the Patents and Companies Registration Agency and the Weights and Measures Bills, Chikwanda said fees and any other revenue collected by these institutions should become part of the national treasury.

However, Committee on Legal Affairs, Gender and Child Matters chairperson Jack Mwiimbu said witnesses interviewed at the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency said operations of the entities would be affected.

"Mr.chairman, your committee was told that their budget flows will be affected and operations will be stifled if the national treasury suffers budget deficit. For instance, ZEMA requires timely funding to carry out its work and previously, they faced problems when they relied on direct funding from government," said Mwiimbu.

"We are aware that these measures are aimed at enhancing revenue collection and will ensure greater sharing but there are concerns that delayed or reduced funding might result in withdrawal of certain incentives thereby forcing qualified personnel to leave."

But Chikwanda assured that funds would be placed in a dedicated account at BoZ that would be ring fenced and ready for use whenever an emergency arose in the concerned institution.

"Their operations will neither be affected nor compromised and before money is deposited into control-99, funds necessary for operation including emergency activities will be availed," he said.

And Committee on Delegated Legislation chairperson Moono Lubezhi said witnesses interviewed at Patents and Companies Registration Agency and Weights and Measures Agency, also said provision of efficient services would be affected due to delayed funding.

"They said that funding should be timely and adequate to ensure smooth operations," she said.

In response, Chikwanda said all funds would be put to good use.

"Operational costs of these institutions will not be affected, all we want is to ensure these funds become part of general revenue and should be accounted for," said Chikwanda.

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