ZICA President Cecilia Zimba praises Hakainde Sammy Hichilema’s ‘New Dawn’
By Henry Chunza/ Today Zambia Newspaper (TZN)
ZAMBIA Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) President, Mrs. Cecilia Zimba has congratulated the New Dawn government on a well-balanced National budget taking into account the challenges the country is facing and taking stakeholder engagements on board in coming up with economic policies.
Speaking at ZICA Media Briefing for the last quarter of 2022 on matters that affect the accountancy profession and the Zambian nation at large, Mrs. Zimba implored Minister of Finance and National Planning Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane to issue a Statutory Instrument (SI) for the State Audit Commission Act No. 27 of 2016 to become operationalised once this particular Commencement Order is effected.
Mrs. Zimba said ZICA is looking forward to the operationalization of the State Audit Commission to provide oversight on the Office of the Auditor General and to enhance ethical conduct and matters arising on disputed audit findings.
“The establishment of an oversight authority will foster the effective verification of how public resources are utilized and how public officials working within the Government administrations follow the rules and regulations,” pleaded Mrs. Zimba.
And ZICA President equally commended the New Dawn Administration led by President Hakainde Sammy Hichilema and Vice President Witner Kapembwa Mutale-Nalumango for recruited and deployed 11,200 health personnel last year, thus strengthening the health care system in the country.
“The health sector is critical to the wellbeing of the nation and economic growth and urged Government to accelerate the rollout of technology solutions to manage the medicine supply chain as the disconnect between the supply of drugs and their availability to patients in health centres remains a big challenge,” said an appreciative Mrs. Cecilia.
Government increased the allocations for the purchase of drugs and medical supplies and an allocation of K4.6 billion has been budgeted.
The ZICA President also praised the government on the International Monetary Fund’s approval of the 38-month Extended Credit Facility of US$1.3 billion.
This three (3) year programme is “home-grown” and is expected that the $1.3 billion will be used for budget support as well as increasing the stock of international reserves, which cheered Mrs. Zimba.
Mrs. Zimba said that with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supporting Zambia, creditors are more assured that they will get their money back and therefore willing to write-off some debt or reschedule the debt for payment over a longer period of time.
Zambia is set to gain in terms of reduced stock of debt due to IMF coordinated write-off and reduced present-value of debt due to rescheduling, adding that the International Monetary Fund deal is going to catalyse financial support from development partners.
“IMF is a leader, when they lend to country, confidence in that country grows. If IMF can trust Zambia with their money, then World Bank and other partners can also do the same. In fact, even businesses from other countries will want to invest their money in Zambia because they believe in our plan,” she added.
She further commended government for introducing free education in the country from grade 1 to grade 12, prayerfully hoping that with increased resourcefulness, this can be extended to tertiary education.
The ZICA president said that with the new policy, learners from grade 1 to 12 in day schools no longer have to pay school fees and those in boarding schools can access sponsorship under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
“This is development is definitely a step in the right direction notwithstanding other serious economic challenges the country faces, we are confident that with time especially after debt restructuring and once the economy starts recovering, the Government can extend free education to boarding schools and expand tertiary education scholarships. As ZICA, we support this policy direction by the Government owing to the fact that not everyone was managing to pay school fees especially in the rural areas,” said Mrs. Zimba.
Government released K442.2 million to all schools, which marked the final grant allocation under the free education programme to provide for operational support to public schools aimed at facilitating the implementation of free education.”
Education is the key to a nation’s prosperity and to reduce the backlog of unemployed teachers and improve the quality of education by reducing the Pupil – Teacher ratio, the Government recruited and deployed over 30,496 teachers to various schools across the country to improve the teacher pupil ratios, as well as education outcomes.
To improve the quality of education through the provision of teaching and learning materials, grants to primary schools will continue.
To further increase access to education, Government will continue to pay boarding fees and provide education grants for the disadvantaged adolescent girls to encourage the girl child to remain in school. In, addition, Government will continue to implement the Keeping Girls in School Project with approximately 59,000 girls currently benefiting from the project.
Government also intends to expand the support of free education by abolishing tuition and examination fees in public schools from early childhood to secondary schools.
“Education is key to income mobility and the proposals will help reduce income inequality in the long term. Equitable treatment of learners before an education system is commended,”said Mrs. Zimba.
Furthermore, ZICA president also urged the New Dawn Administration to hasten the full implementation of accrual basis International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) in Zambia to foster increased transparency and provide a better understanding of Government’s financial performance, greater accountability to make informed decisions about resource utilization, and improved financial information to support governance, management of assets and decision-making.
She added that the full implementation of accrual basis International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) will eventually result in reduction of recurring audit queries in the Auditor General’s report.
The president also recommended the state for implementing various tax measures that will help revamp the economy and help put more money in people’s pockets.
She also urged Government to ensure that they recruit qualified Accountants registered with ZICA in all the schools including primary schools to ensure proper accountability of the funds.
However, ZICA president expressed happiness that the Government took stakeholders engagements and submissions on tax matters into consideration and in particular ZICA ’s proposals on tax and non-tax measures were considered positively.”
Moreover, ZICA president also recommended the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) for the effort made in taking into consideration submissions made by ZICA on the Country by Country Reporting Practice guidance. The Practice Note has helped provide general guidance to the Members on various tax laws.
Further, we urge the Government to ensure that they recruit qualified Accountants registered with ZICA in all the schools including primary schools to ensure proper accountability of the funds.