Holding controlling officers in government ministries, departments and agencies to account will remain a far-fetched dream as Public Finance Management Act (PFM) review processes delay.
Presenting the 2020/21 budget statement, Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said the revised Act would be submitted to Parliament in the mid-year budget review meeting of 2021.
“The revised Act is expected to strengthen accounting, budgeting, revenue and expenditure management, internal controls and other areas of public finance management,” he said.
However, the bill was not submitted to Parliament as promised by the minister, a fact Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda attests to.
“I did not see the bill and the information I have is that the bill is at consultation stage. The bill itself should be done but, maybe, what remains is relating it to other laws. Sometimes you will make a law only to find out that it is in conflict with another law,” he said.
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira expressed concern over the delays, saying he expected the revised Act to extend personal responsibility and accountability beyond principal secretaries and district commissioners.
But another governance expert Henry Chingaipe said the review should be focused on enforcement mechanisms of personal responsibility, arguing that personal responsibility of controlling officers is already provided for in the Act of 2003.
“The issue is enforcement of the provisions. There are the weaknesses we should be addressing but the laws are there,” he said.