CSPR urges MPs to make speedy progress on enacting important Bills

Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) executive director Patrick Nshindano says parliamentarians should throw away their political patronages when debating critical Bills in Parliament this sitting.

In an interview, Nshindano said as Parliament resumed sitting, Tuesday, he expected progress on the enhancement of important Bills like the Public Finance Management and the Planning and Budgeting Bills.

“As Civil Society for Poverty Reduction, we are quite expectant for the next sitting of Parliament, and this is because there are quite a number of Bills that remained hanging from the last sitting, especially those to do with enhancing Public Finance Management. Issues to do with Public Financial Management in this country have become very topical, and we have a lot of allegations both in the public sector and also from official information in terms of the AG’s Report and information from the FIC (Financial Intelligence Centre) that highlights misapplication of public funds by government officials. And we are asking for progress with regards to reforms in that direction, specifically for Public Finance Management Act,” Nshindano said.

“But there are equally other critical pieces of legislation that need to be passed that includes issues to do with (the) Planning and Budgeting Bill that we hope this time around will be passed; issues to do with Access to Information Act. These will bring about transparency and accountability.”

He said it is also expected of Parliament to review the Loans and Guarantees Act and harmonize it in accordance with constitutional provisions.

“And also, one of the major challenges that the country has faced is that of debt. As you know, Zambia has become known to be one of those countries with high debt burden, currently, which is impacting negatively on our national budget and also on our ability to be able to provide descent services, such as health, education and so on where we have even noted a reduction in terms of allocation to the these sectors. So, one of the things that we expect from Parliament is the review of the Loans and Guarantees (Act) for it to be well-harmonized according to the constitutional provisions because the constitutional provision in its current form does provide for parliamentary oversight of government in terms of loans acquisition,” Nshindano said.

“And we hope that with the revision of the Loans and Guarantees, those can be able to be harmonized, because currently, the Loans and Guarantees basically provides for the Minister of Finance to be able to do that on behalf of the nation. And that is very critical because we cannot place that mandate solely to an individual or a single Ministry because you are basically incurring debt on behalf of the citizens and the citizens have to have a right on the nature of debt in which you are incurring and what you are going to be using that debt for.”

And Nshindano urged all members of parliament to be objective when debating about the named Bills to benefit of all Zambians.

“Of course, there are a number of other (pieces of) legislation that we will be keeping our eyes on the ground as you know, there is a process of constitutional reforms that basically hinges on the well-being of our country in terms of our legislative framework including Public Order Act. And one of the things that we expect from them (parliamentarians) as these Bills are being presented is for them to be magnanimous and throw away all political patronage. These are critical (pieces of) legislation and we expect both sides of the House to present debates in a more objective manner and ensure that we get sound legislation being put in place for the country for all Zambians to benefit,” said Nshindano.

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