Justice Minister Given Lubinda says government owes K5.2 billion to individuals and institutions that won court cases against it.
And Lubinda says of the K5.2 billion, only K200 million has been provided for in the 2019 budget.
Speaking in Parliament Friday when he contributed to the debate on his ministry’s budget for next year, Lubinda also warned that any public officer who aids or causes government to lose revenue shall be brought to book.
“I regret to inform you, the House and the nation that a total of K5,241,878,000.89 is owed to individuals and institutions who won cases against government. [That] is what the compensation and awards fund is owing individuals and institutions who won court cases against government. Of this amount, K200 million has been provided in the 2019 budget. The ministry and government generally is deeply concerned with the escalation and the huge amounts the government has to pay towards the compensation and awards fund as this is crowding out funding to other even more important government programmes,” Lubinda said.
Lubinda said his ministry had issued a memo to all ministries, provinces and other government spending agencies to submit debts owed by government.
“The Ministry of Justice will streamline and strengthen its debt collection unit to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. As part of this process, the ministry has issued a circular through cabinet office requesting all ministries, provinces and other spending agencies to submit debts owed to government. This will be enhanced by recruitment of more specialised state advocates to assist in debt collection,” he said.
He warned that any public officer who aided or caused government to lose money would be brought to book.
“To address this challenge, the ministry will continue to engage the treasury to facilitate recruitment and retention of state advocates for placement in ministries, provinces and other spending agencies to ensure that timely provision of legal advice to government, and particularly to ministry of justice. Government is implementing the Public Finance Management Act 01of 2018 which has strengthened accountability, oversight, management and control of public funds in the Public Finance Management Framework. As the house is aware, that piece of legislation puts responsibility on any public officers who aids and causes government to lose revenue. And going forward we shall ensure that such public officers are brought to the book,” warned Lubinda.