9 November 2012

Zambia: Parley Nods K85 Billion Budget Allocation for AG's Office

PARLIAMENT yesterday unanimously approved the K85 billion allocation to the Office of the Auditor-General in the 2013 national Budget, with the parliamentarians calling for increased funding for effective operations.

The approved budget for the Office of the Auditor General for 2012 was about K77 billion.

Moving the motion to approve the estimates and expenditure, Vice-President Guy Scott said Government was committed to promoting good governance, transparency and accountability in the use of public funds.

Dr Scott said the Government would ensure public resources and those from cooperating partners were put to good use.

He said next year's budget allocation to the Auditor General's Office would enable quality service delivery.

"This budget is important because it will enable the Auditor General's Office to carry out its services such as the expected auditing of books of accounts," he said.

Lubansenshi Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Mucheleka said the funding to the Office of the Auditor General was inadequate in view of the huge operations in its daily work.

He said in the recent past, the Office had not been effective because of insufficient funding, adding that there was need for free operations of the Office without political interference.

United Party for National Development (UPND) Monze MP Jack Mwiimbu said the Office of the Auditor General should be alive to issues of Government affairs and conduct itself professionally.

"Mr chairman, I wish to render my qualified support to the budget of the Office of the Auditor General," he said.

He said the Government should give the Office prosecuting powers to enable it to immediately institute investigations into people found wanting and take them to court.

Mr Mwiimbu said abuse of public funds should not be tolerated because the resources were meant for national development and to benefit all Zambians and not selected individuals.

MMD Senga Hill MP Kapembwa Simbao said the K85 billion allocation was minimal and that officers at the Auditor General's Office needed to be paid well to enable them to carry out their mandate in a conducive environment.

UPND Kalomo MP Request Muntanga praised Auditor General Anna Chifungula for her continued meticulous work in auditing national resources.

Mr Muntanga was impressed with Ms Chifungula's continued professionalism and encouraged her to remain focused and audit the 2013 Budget funds.

And Deputy Speaker, Mkhondo Lungu yesterday sent out of the House two UPND MPs for passing running commentaries while the Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Joseph Katema was debating on the floor.

Dr Katema was winding up debate on Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for his ministry when the two parliamentarians were sent out.

The two are Gwembe MP Brian Ntundu and Kantombora MP Derick Livune.

Mr Lungu had earlier warned the MPs to desist from disturbing Dr Katema as he debated because they risked being sent out.

"Can the MPs for Gwembe and Kantombora leave the House and come back after some time," Mr Lungu said.

However, shortly after Dr Katema finished presenting his debate, one of the MPs who had been sent out came in, prompting the Deputy Speaker to say that he had not specified the period they should stay outside.

Mr Lungu said when he sent the two MPs outside that he only wanted them to be away so that Dr Katema could complete his presentation.

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