Vice-President Inonge Wina says government has unfrozen 39 vacant positions at the office of the Auditor General, thereby allowing the institution to employ more staff and increased its audit coverage.

Wina said this in Parliament on Tuesday when she gave a breakdown of the K93,436, 697 budgetary allocation to the Auditor General’s office in the 2018.

“In 2018, government is committed to enhance and strengthen the capacity of the office of the Auditor General. In this regard, the government is unfreezing 39 positions. In addition, the overall structure of the office will be reviewed in view of the new strategic plan and the added mandate of the auditing of the local authorities. The total 2018 budget for the office is ninety three million, four hundred and thirty six thousand, six hundred ninety seven kwacha (K93, 436, 697) of which K52.5 is personnel related and K40 million is for recurrent departmental charges. K22 million has been provided for auditing activities out of the total recurrent departmental charges budget,” Wina said.

“Madam Chairperson, in order to achieve the above outputs, the office will increase its audit coverage and maximize the monitoring of the usage of public resources. In addition, the 2018 budget includes a provision of K3.9 million for purposes of planning for audits, quality insurance, monitoring and evaluations. Under this provision, the office will be able to ensure that its activities are aligned to the government programs and contribute towards the achievements of development outcomes as indicated in the 7th National Development Plan.”

Vice president Wina said through the allocated budget, the office was expected to produce reports on the main public accounts, parastatol bodies, local authorities, and statutory bodies among others.

“The expected outcomes is the production of the following (i) reports on the main accounts of the Republic (ii) reports on parastatal bodies and other statutory institutions (iii) reports on local authorities (iv) reports on performance value for money audits on selected thematic areas and (v) special reports as may be requested by the executive and other stakeholders,” she said.

Wina further said a total of K6.1 million had been provided to meet the expenses such as administrative costs.

“Madam Chairperson, a provision of K2.8 million has been made for the rehabilitation and insurance of office buildings. This is to ensure that there is a clean and secure working environment as well as averting any loss should any fire or natural calamity befall us such as we have seen in the recent past. In line with the government drive for a smart Zambia, a provision of K1.1 million has been included for the implementation of ICT development and support activities,” Wina said.

“Madam Chairperson, a provision of K2.2 million has been made for dismantling arrears related to personal emoluments, goods and services, and infrastructure development. This is in line with government priority to liquidate arrears for economic stability and growth programs. Other expenses provided for in the budget include administrative costs such as repairs of vehicles, maintenance of buildings among others. And in this regard, a total budget of K6.1 million has been made to meet these expenses. Most of the office work involves traveling and as such, it is critical to ensure that vehicles and other tools are in good working conditions.”

She said the office of the Auditor General would embark of capacity building for its staff.

“In implementing all these programs, the office requires a knowledgeable and skilled human resource, therefore, a total of K1.5 million has been provided for capacity building programs in the budget of 2018. And with the an ever evolving environment and the changing dynamics of auditing, the auditors require continuous professional development to keep abreast with the changing standards,” disclosed Wina.

“Madam Chairperson lastly, a total of K52.5 million has been provided for the payment of personnel related expenses such as salaries and housing, transport and fuel allowances. I wish to emphasise that the Auditor General’s office is in the 5th pillar of the 7th NDP under development outcome to improved transparency and accountability and is therefore responsible for ensuring accountability and transparency in the use of public funds from taxes and from donors.”