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‘Public Finance Management Act is weak’


Zimbabwe still has no regulations to enforce the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), resulting in failure to bring ministries and parastatals who could not account for public finances to book.

Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust (Sapst) economic affairs adviser Rongai Chizema yesterday said no one was brought to book for financial anomalies in government because the PFMA regulations were yet to be gazetted
He was speaking during a workshop for journalists on budget and public finance reforms in Harare.

Chizema said although the Comptroller and Auditor-General in the 2009 and 2010 audit reports of government ministries and parastatals disclosed a lot of weaknesses and lack of accountability on how funds were used, nothing could be done because the regulations were yet to be gazetted.

“The PFMA gives Parliament more scope to monitor budget performance and permanent secretaries should periodically report to Parliamentary Portfolio Committees so that there is fiscal transparency and it makes it easy to gauge the performance of the Executive and hold them accountable so that they deliver,” Chizema said.

“However, the PFMA makes it difficult to assert power and ensure there is full implementation and accountability because the regulations have not yet been gazetted.”

Chizema said in countries such as Ghana and Uganda whenever Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Public Accounts were sitting and grilling ministries and parastatals over use of public funds, the police and Anti-Corruption Commission would be present to immediately enforce the law and bring errant people to book.

“For the Public Accounts Committee to be fierce, it requires other complementary powers to preside over its findings like the police, who pick up anomalies and run for prosecution.

“In Ghana, they hold public hearings outside Parliament and prosecution happens the next morning.

“In Uganda, the police also form part of the quorum during Public Accounts Committee hearings,” Chizema said.

Sapst senior economist Artwell Gonese said ideally the Comptroller and Auditor-General was supposed to submit audit reports not later than end of June each year, but they were unable to do so due to resource constraints resulting in the reports losing value by the time they were released.

Media consultant Shepherd Mutamba said there was need for Zimbabwean MPs to “make noise” whenever issues to do with public funds were raised in Parliament.

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