FINANCE Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says government is not casual about the assurances that it makes on funding projects, but says some challenges forces his office to realign expenditure.
And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says at least the government has shown the people of Zambia that they are able to perform to their expectations.
Debating on the Adoption of the report of the committee on government assurances, Thursday, Dr Ng’andu said changing circumstances, sometimes required that there is a postponement in the implementation of a particular policies.
“Members of the Executive when they come to this House and make assurances, they do not do it in a casual way. When they make assurances, they mean what they say. But Mr Speaker, changing conditions, changing circumstances, sometimes require that there is a postponement in the implementation of a particular assurance that was made. In some cases, there is a delay. Mr Speaker, my colleagues who have spoken before me have given examples of some of the challenges that we are faced with, challenges of floods which have resulted in bridges being washed away and damaged. When you are faced with that situation, you are forced to undertake realignment of your resources, there is expenditure realignment. Some of these bridges when they are washed away, they cut off people, people can’t travel, kids can’t go to school, at that point it becomes the most urgent thing that you have to address,” debated Dr Ng’andu.
“When you have a drought, and there is no food, building a road becomes less important than sitting back and allowing people to starve. These are the realities that we are faced with and I am saying this because I am the person who is responsible for allocating resources. A lot of times, I am aware that I have no obligation, no other choice but to undertake an expenditure realignment. That doesn’t mean the government is being casual about the assurances that it is making to this House. It simply means that the reality of the moment require government to rethink its implementation strategy.”
And in his debate, Kampyongo said the PF government was coming back to power in August to complete the assurances.
“Mr Speaker, some of the assurances that the report has highlighted date back to as far as 2014. In as much as we make projections in a fiscal year, there are also eventualities that could be beyond the control of the Executive. Take for example that period 2014 to 2015, we had a President, his Excellency Michael Chilufya Sata who we lost midway. Mr, Speaker, losing a head of state for any government is a very serious setback. First of all, it changes just everything, all the projections and the cost that goes with managing that loss. Leave alone the by-elections that we used to have, the presidential by-election, it takes away a lot of money so if there were projected programs to be undertaken between that period, certainly some of them were to be affected. And that is how come some of these assurances highlighted around that time were affected,” debated Kampyongo.
“We had to go for another election in 2016, just a short period of time. Here now we are faced with COVID we didn’t plan. We didn’t sit here to budget to allocate money to deal with a calamity such as COVID where does the money come from? The honourable MP for Mwinilunga is even contradicting himself. He says when they were in MMD, they were making assurances which they fulfilled, how come today he is saying Jimbe- Mwinulinga road is not worked on, who is there to blame? Yes, it is easier to say ‘we are disappointed’ but let us be realistic with the factors that affect the implementation of government assurances. Assurances are made in sincerity and at least we have shown the people of Zambia that we are able to perform to their expectations and where we have failed, we shall tell them the reason why we couldn’t do it. That is why we are coming back in August to come and complete some of these assurances that we have made to our people.”
Meanwhile, Manyinga UPND Member of Parliament Robert Lihefu said the tendency by the government ofassuring people that projects would be completed when there was no money in the treasury amounted to an insult.
“Mr Speaker, the tendency of our colleagues or the government of assuring the people in various areas that ‘these projects will be done’ when the government of the Republic of Zambia has got no money in our treasury is sometimes, comes to be very bad or an insult to those areas that they promised. People are losing confidence in this government of PF. That is why they are saying ‘come 12th August 2021, they have to go out of office because the assurances that they have been giving the people of this country have not been fulfilled.’ So Mr Speaker, I just want to advise my colleagues in the Executive that when they are giving assurances let’s make sure that these assurances are fulfilled,” said Lihefu.