UNWTO Blamed For Budget Overrun

The hosting of the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in Livingstone, among what Secretary to the Treasury, Frederick Yamba terms as “several unanticipated expenditures that have arisen in 2013” is being blamed for breaching this year’s budget.

According to the latest documents, some as recent as a week old, seen by our correspondents, public service wage increments “beyond the budgeted levels and other expenditures related to recruitment of staff in newly created districts and construction of new roads” have affected the budget.

The documents, however, do not mention the unprecedented number of by-elections the country has ever seen that have gobbled billions of Kwacha to hold as one of the causes of the budget stretch.

The Ministry of Finance has, as a result, cut recurrent and capital funding allocations to all ministries and departments to try and save upwards of KR1 billion in the third quarter.

The ministry has stopped the purchase of motor vehicles and use of hired conference facilities among other things. Also curtailed is travelling especially that involving huge delegations within and outside the country.

In one of the letters addressed to various ministries, Mr Yamba advised the use of diplomatic staff to carry out assignments for which local officers are sent abroad unless those were unable to perform those duties.

It is however not clear if these travel restrictions will affect Michael Sata who is fond of extending international visits when he travels abroad.