State Launches U.S.$30 Million PFMR Programme

THE Government has launched the US$30 million Public Financial Management Reform (PFMR) programme to help effectively strengthen financial accountability and transparency in the use of public funds.

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said the PFMR, developed at a cost of $30 million, would also play a critical role in addressing weaknesses in public finance management by strengthening the systems of accountability.

The minister said in a speech read for him by Secretary to the Treasury, Fredson Yamba that misappropriation of public funds derailed the delivery of public services such as health, education, water, sanitation and roads, hence the need for quick implementation of financial reforms.

“In order to operationalise this strategy, the Government developed the PFMR programme with the support of cooperating partners who together committed $30 million to the first phase of this programme,” he said.

Mr Chikwanda was speaking yesterday at Government Complex where he launched the programme expected to be operational until the end of 2017.

He assured donors that the Government would ensure the programme was implemented as it was the only prudent way to improve overall public financial management and accountability to help improve the lives of ordinary citizens.

“The success or failure depends on you the implementers. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to ensure that the planned activities are implemented on time, within budget and in a coordinated manner,” Mr Chikwanda said.

“This requires hard work and commitment to duty from all of us involved. It is imperative that we leave a good legacy for the future generations.”

Finance Permanent Secretary for economic management and finance, Felix Nkulukusa said the successful implementation of the programme would offer modern and updated solutions to some of the challenges being faced in the management of public resources.

“These challenges include misuse of public resources, low levels of value for money, funding shortfalls despite idle balances in commercial banks and variation of funds away from what was approved by Parliament,” Mr Nkulukusa said.

He said the reforms were a realisation of the intentions that were outlined in the Public Financial Management Strategy and that, once implemented, were expected to strengthen financial management and transparency in the use of resources among all the facets of the public sector which received subventions from the treasury.

World Bank Zambia regional director, Kundhavi Kadiresan said the launch of the programme was a major landmark for Zambia in promoting fiscal discipline and transparency in public finance management.

Dr Kadiresan said the project was expected to enhance the legal basis for robust PFMR arrangements through support for sensitisation workshops for development of a new planning and budget law.

This, she said would help strengthen the linkages of budgetary allocation with policy objectives of the Government.

Cooperating partners’ representative and acting head of department for International Development (DFID), Bruce MacDowall said the reforms required learning and applying new skills and in many cases, significant cultural changes.

He said the Finnish, World Bank and German ambassadors were keen to see that such reform programmes worked because they ensured that funds were made available to have this important programme developed and later launched.

“The challenge now is to translate those growth and additional finances into more effective service delivery and poverty reduction.

It is very difficult to do this without effective public finance management systems,” Mr MacDowall said.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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