Secretary to the Treasury FREDSON YAMBA has said Controlling Officers are instrumental in actualizing President Edgar Lungu’s immutable vision of ensuring that there is prudence in the management and utilization of public resources.

Mr. Yamba says the Ministry of Finance WILL NOT HESITATE to evoke the sanction provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, 2018, against erring Controlling Officers and other public officials when regulations and rules governing the handling and utilization of public resources are contravened. He has urged Controlling Officers to ensure that the irregularities pronounced in the auditor general’s report begin to get reversed in future audit instances.

The Secretary to the Treasury was speaking to Controlling Officers at Protea Hotel in Chisamba, Friday, 2nd November, 2018, during the official opening of a sensitization seminar on the New Public Financial Management Act, 2018. Under section 10 of the Act, a Controlling Officer is responsible and accountable for the proper financial management and expenditure of public resources appropriated to a public body.

He told the delegates that the Treasury Single Account; a unified structure of government bank accounts established under section 25 of the Public Finance Act, No. 1, 2018, has been rolled out to 57 out of 62 targeted public sector institutions. He said the impact of the Treasury Single Account has been phenomenal as the Treasury is now able to effectively manage cash resources at reduced cost.

Mr. Yamba listed some of the milestones achieved during the last six years [2012 to date] of implementing public financial management reforms; whose objectives were to enhance accountability, transparency, and strengthen budgeting processes and oversight institutions, as:

1. Establishment of parliament radio, television and communication systems at the National Assembly;

2. Construction and operationalization of Offices of the Auditor General in provincial centers; and,

3. Implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System [IFMIS] in Ministries, Provinces and Other Spending Agencies.

Meanwhile, making a presentation on the Public Financial Management Act, 2018, at the same event, Accountant General Dr. DICK SICHEMBE said the Ministry of Finance has embarked on an asset registration exercise for all public assets and stores in order to strengthen accountability, oversight, management and control in accordance with the Act.

Dr. Sichembe took the opportunity to encourage controlling bodies i.e. [Ministries, Provinces, and Other Spending Agencies] to ensure that they comply with their fiduciary duties. He outlined the fiduciary duties for controlling bodies as; taking utmost care with respect to public assets; ensuring that conflict of interest is avoided in the management and handling of public resources; and, consistently acting with fidelity, honesty and integrity in respect of public resources to ensure that the best interest of the country is served.

And sharing the experience of not having audit queries in the current audit report with other delegates, Luapula Province Permanent Secretary BULETI NSEMUKILA has said Controlling Officers need to build their financial governance team through close collaboration with accounting, auditing and procurement personnel. He warned his fellow Controlling Officers against disregarding advice on financial management matters from their officials.

Dr. Nsemukila further cautioned the Controlling Officers in whose provinces Expo’s are taking place to be on high alert and assure that all resources, included those donated by the private sector and other well-wishers are disclosed and properly accounted for.

Section 24 of the Public Financial Management Act, No.1, 2018, demands the channeling of donations and grants through the Consolidated Fund on the approval of the Minister of Finance, who then is required to submit a supplementary request to Parliament for approval within the year.

And Eastern Province Permanent Secretary CHANDA KASOLO, whose administration has not had audit queries for two years has attributed the positive picture to the supportive leadership of the Provincial Minister and the hard work of officials at both provincial and district level in ensuring that there is compliance with financial rules, regulations and procedures. Mr. Kasolo called on fellow Permanent Secretaries and other Controlling Officers to nurture a cordial working relationship with the provincial office of the auditor general in order to benefit from their guidance and counsel on public financial matters.

The Controlling Officers Seminar has been arranged by the Office of the Accountant General, Ministry of Finance, to help the delegates to appreciate the overview of the Public Finance Management Act, No. 1, 2018, and review the financial and stores regulations to bring them in conformity with the new Act. The seminar delegates are also getting insights on ways of further strengthening internal control systems in the management of public resources.

REFERENCE POINTS:

[A] The role of the Treasury in Public Financial Management

1. Promote and coordinate national fiscal and macro-economic policy;

2. Manage the budget process;

3. Design and oversee the implementation of financial management systems;

4. Manage the consolidated fund;

5. Manage public debt;

6. Provide policy direction on the operation of state-owned-enterprises; and,

7. Take administrative action against a person or public body that is in breach of the Public Financial Management Act, No. 1, 2018.

[B] Functions of the Secretary to the Treasury in Public Financial Management

1. Appointment of controlling officers;

2. Management of the Government payroll;

3. Issuance of treasury authority;

4. Management of the consolidated fund and other public funds established under any law;

5. Provide advice and guidance on budgeting, accounting, internal auditing or on any issue related to public financial management matters; and,

6. Take disciplinary action against erring controlling officers.

Courtesy of Ministry of Finance

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