People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti says it is unbelievable how the Ministry of Finance only forgot to release salaries to employees at the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) out of all government institutions.

Reacting to reports that employees at the FIC went without salaries for December until last week when the Ministry of Finance finally funded the institution, Mulongoti said he did not understand what the Minister was thinking.

“There are a number of things going on wrong in this country, but one issue that I find worrisome is the one that is happening at the Financial Intelligence Center. It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Finance did not include the department on the December budget for salaries of government institutions,” Mulongoti said.

“However, the law does provide for a supplementary budget, meaning that if a department was not catered for, it can be catered for later on but also at the same time, there is a budget line called contingency. That contingency budget line has a provision which implies that if you have a shortfall as government, for example in this matter, they can accommodate it in that contingency budget and I don’t see why they didn’t want to give them [FIC] money from that contingency budget line.”

He observed that the FIC was a sensitive institution which government was expected to support instead of frustrating.

“It is an essential part of our governance programme. We have to hold the government accountable in the way it transacts and that whatever money they are messing around with must be made known to us as citizens so that we don’t find ourselves in these issues of illicit financial flows and other illegal transactions. So it’s part of our governance programme to address matters of that nature. That’s why we are asking Honourable [Felix] Mutati [Minister of Finance] to be serious. What does he think he’s doing by denying that centre some money? This is just unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, Mulongoti condemned the move by PF cadres who are spearheading the allocation of trading spaces to marketeers at Lusaka’s City Market.

“It is not the duty of cadres to allocate city market trading space in the market. That means that we are going back to lawlessness because the duty of town maintenance and the allocation of space at trading places is only for local authorities, it is the duty of Lusaka City council to give traders space at City Market and not cadres, there is no role for party cadres,” said Mulongoti.

“And if you look at the Local Government Act, it does not talk about cadres mandated to do anything because it does not recognise those cadres. They are not recognised in the Republican Constitution, so at what point do they come in? This is the kind of lawlessness that we should stop because the minute you allow cadres to start supervising traders, then you are promoting violence because those PF cadres will not be impartial when giving spaces to traders and if this doesn’t stop then this country will just become unmanageable.”