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State drafting Bill to manage public funds
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
November 07, 2006

http://www1.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=11069&cat=1&livedate=11/7/2006

GOVERNMENT is working on a comprehensive piece of legislation to ensure accountability in the expenditure of public money and set out punitive measures against public institutions that fail to adhere to the Public Finance Management System, a senior official said yesterday.

Secretary for Finance Mr Willard Manungo told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts that failure by some ministries to adhere to the PFMS was a cause for concern.

He was responding to questions raised by the lawmakers on what Treasury was doing to ensure that there was transparency and accountability in the operations of the ministries.

Government, Mr Manungo said, was in the process of drafting the public finance management Bill that would empower Treasury to deal with errant departments and parastatals.

The committee has in the past expressed concern over the failure by ministries to produce annual audited accounts on time with some taking up to six years to do so.

"We really need provisions that empower us to deal with cases of financial misconduct. Ministries are supposed to submit quarterly financial returns, but some ministries are not doing this" Mr Manungo said.

"In the absence of specific legislation, it limits our capacity in terms of dialogue which we can have with ministries."

He said the failure by departments and parastatals to produce to audited accounts on time was partly due to the high staff turnover.

As a way of dealing with the exodus of qualified staff, Government has established a skills retention fund with $500 million being availed as seed money.

Mr Manungo said the fund was yet to be disbursed since the Public Service Commission was still finalising submissions by various ministries on possible beneficiaries.

He noted that the setting-up of the fund was only a stop-gap measure in curbing brain drain, saying what was needed was a holistic approach in improving conditions of employment in the civil service.

However, acting committee chairman and Masvingo Senator Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire wondered why public enterprises were taking ages to produce audited reports for tabling in Parliament yet they have in the past produced such reports "overnight" for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in their quest to seek funding.

Mr Manungo said in terms of the law, it was the responsibility of parent ministries to ensure that parastatals that fall under them tabled their audited accounts on time.

The legislators also raised the issue of lack of substantive boards in a number of parastatals, saying this was compromising their operations.

In response, Mr Manungo said Minister for State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies and Anti-Corruption Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana had been tasked to address the issue.

Turning to another matter, Mr Manungo said Zimbabwe’s foreign debt was about US$2 billion with the shortage of foreign currency militating against the efforts to service it.

Government, he said, had 16 foreign currency accounts and out of these, nine were under Treasury with the remainder operating under various ministries.

Mr Manungo said he was satisfied with the running of the foreign currency accounts by the ministries, which were allowed to retain 25 percent of the money generated.

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