Frauds, outright theft of public funds and corruption have become permanent features in the Auditor General’s reports, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has said.
Mr Yamba has since challenged permanent secretaries to adopt a culture of zero tolerance to the vices.
Speaking when he officially opened the controlling officers workshop yesterday at New Government Complex on Public Financial Management under the theme Improved Service Delivery through Prudent Financial Management, Mr Yamba said permanent secretaries as controlling officers must never fall to the temptations of corruption.
He said it was worrying that past performances in the management of public resources had been characterized by misapplication and misappropriation of public funds at various levels of government.
“Therefore Permanent Secretaries should adopt measures that will minimize corruption, fraud and theft of public finances so as to restore the confidence of citizens in the management of public resources,” he said
Mr Yamba said permanent secretaries as controlling officers must at all times ensure that public funds were utilized in the most efficient and effective manner to the maximum benefit of the ordinary citizens.
“Past performances in the management of public resources have been characterized by glaring irregularities that involved misapplication and misappropriation of funds at various government levels. It is therefore desirable that we should adopt measures that will minimize fraud, outright theft of public funds and corruption,” Mr Yamba said.
He stated that it is regrettable that the vices were happening at a time the country was facing high levels of poverty and poor access to decent public services such as infrastructure, clean water and sanitation services for the citizens.
He explained that procurement irregularities, failure to address audit queries and poor budget execution have become a norm in public service.
He said time has come for the country to change its poor reputation in the management of public resources and that this would only be achieved if Permanent Secretaries adhered to strict government processes in their discharge of their duties.
“We should inculcate in ourselves a culture of zero tolerance to corruption and zero audit query record in our respective institutions. As controlling officers, to achieve zero tolerance to accounting irregularities, we must ensure that unretired imprest, unaccounted for fuel, questionable refunds, fraud and theft are avoided,” Mr Yamba said.
Mr Yamba directed the permanent secretaries to acquire the Public Finance Act, The Zambia Public Procurement Act, Financial Regulations Act and other government documents to help them understand their roles.
He said there was a public outcry that controlling officers were unable to implement government programmes and that it was important that the perception was changed.