About K18.2 billion has been lost to illicit financial activities under President Edgar Lungu’s four-year reign, says National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili.

And Kambwili says an NDC government will enhance operations of watchdog institutions to ensure that illicit financial flows are significantly reduced.

In NDC’s weekly newsletter to News Diggers! Kambwili noted that Zambia had suffered huge financial losses in form of illicit financial flows which could have helped in supporting social services.

Citing data gathered by the NDC’s policy and research department, Kambwili outlined that the K18.2 billion Zambia had lost in the last four years was more than what government had borrowed from the first and second Eurobonds issued in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

The K18.2 billion represents cumulative amounts Zambia has lost to financial crimes as published in four successive Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Trends Reports.

“There has been a sure increase in illicit activities under President Edgar Lungu since, 2015. A total of about ZMW18.2 billion (US $1.82 billion) has been lost under Mr Lungu’s reign in the last four years. This money could have helped in supporting social services such as health, education and infrastructure development. The amount of money lost through illicit inflows is equivalent to the two Eurobonds that we issued as a country, namely $750 million and $1 billion,” Kambwili stated.

He observed that if the K18.2 billion was saved under a Sinking Fund, Zambia would have easily settled two of the three euro bonds at an exchange rate of $1 to K10.

“The money that we have lost to corruption, theft, tax evasion and fraud in four years is about 7.28 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of 2018 GDP and 25.6 per cent of the 2018 national budget. If this money could have been saved under a Sinking Fund instead of it being put in people’s pockets, Zambia would have settled two of the three Eurobonds at an exchange rate of $1 to ZMW10 and spare the citizens from high taxes, fuel prices and debt distress. As NDC, we are highly concerned with the loss of money that can be channelled towards poverty reduction, but going into individual’s pocket,” Kambwili stated.

He stated that it was shocking that the Head of State had opted to trash the Financial Intelligence Centre 2018 Trends Report.

“It is amazingly shocking that President Edgar Lungu has opted to rubbish the recently-released FIC (Trends) Report that highlights glaring illicit financial scandals. But we are not obviously surprised with the stance taken by the Head of State. Mr. Lungu has never been serious in fighting graft and, evidently, the Trends Report implicates some of his close associates,” Kambwili noted.

He urged the Head of State to allow Law Enforcement Agencies to deal with suspects named in the Report if he was committed in fighting corruption.

“The best that Mr Lungu could do for now, is to own up and allow Law Enforcement Agencies to follow the suspects named in the dossier if he’s really committed in fighting corruption. The remarks by Mr Lungu clearly show no serious commitment from the PF government to fight and tackle corruption, theft, tax evasion and fraud,” Kambwili stated.

And Kambwili stated that NDC in government would ensure that illicit financial flows were significantly reduced by enhancing operations of watchdog institutions.

“The NDC in government will ensure that illicit financial flows are significantly reduced by enhancing the operations of watchdog institutions such as Zambia Police, Ant-corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, and all the Law Enforcement Agencies as well as regulatory authorities. We shall ensure that these institutions draw their authority from the Constitution and report directly to select committees in Parliament,” stated Kambwili.

“The NDC in government will also ensure the security of tenure of office for Constitutional Office bearers in regulatory and watchdog institutions. This is in order to protect the sanctity of their offices, protect them from undue political pressure and obstruction of justice. In this way, there would be no sacred cows in prosecuting law breakers in terms of tax evasion, fraud, corruption and theft of public funds. We will ensure that this erosion in moral uprightness in our current leaderships is not repeated.”