Margaret Mwanakatwe

FINANCE MINISTER MARGARET MWANAKATWE has reiterated that after completion of the drafting process, the draft Goods and Services Tax [GST] Concept Paper will be circulated widely for public analysis and feedback before the final design of the proposed measure is presented to Parliament in form of legislation, for debate and consideration.

During the Ministry of Finance visioning and milestone setting seminar on economic policy, fiscal affairs and financial management, held a few days ago at the ministry’s headquarters in Lusaka, Mrs. MWANAKATWE directed the Budget and Economic Affairs Division to continue overseeing the policy engagement and consultation process with stakeholders in order to finalise the concept paper and draft legislation for the Goods and Services Tax, “in readiness for implementation with effect from, 1st April, 2019.”

Meanwhile, the implementation of the 2019 national budget through treasury disbursements is progressing well. To date, the Government has released over K4.1 billion for various government operations, development programmes, social security, and debt service.

Of the total amount released, the Farmer Input-Support Programme has received K300 million to cater for speedy implementation of both the e-voucher and the direct redeeming initiative for the 2018/2019 farming season. The Treasury released K745.5 million between October and December, 2018, for the same purpose, bringing the total amount released for the current farming season to K1.05 Billion. The Food Reserve Agency [FRA] has received K30 million this month. The FRA also got K193 million between October and December, 2018, bringing the total for the period October, 2018 to January 2019 to K223 million. The funds given to FRA are targeted at facilitating the procurement of maize and other grains in order to meet the strategic reserve requirements. The funds are also meant to help liquidate some outstanding bills.

The SOCIAL CASH TRANSFER PROGRAMME has received K65 million while the Food Security Pack has been given K25 million. The targeted number of beneficiaries for the Food Security Pack in the 2018/2019 farming season is 80,000 households.

Concerning the implementation of the Public Finance Act, 2018, Mrs. Mwanakatwe has instructed the Accountant General to ensure that the Integrated Financial Management Information System [IFMIS] and the Commitment Control System are fully operational in all Ministries, Provinces and Controlling Bodies in order to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to zero irregularities in audit events related to the 2019 national budget cycle and beyond. She has emphasized that the Ministry of Finance cannot be seen to relent in fostering and anchoring fiscal prudence.

The Minister has also affirmed that PRESIDENT EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU has given strict instructions on prudential financial management and austerity measures to ensure that public resources are properly utilized and accounted for so that the people of Zambia benefit from the Governments developmental programmes and service delivery initiatives.

“We have also developed a monitoring dashboard for implementation of austerity measures so that we track the efforts that are being taken by all public entities in complying with the presidential guidance,” she said.

A detailed brief of budget releases for January, 2019, will be circulated in the first week of February, 2019.

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