AUDITOR General Dr Dick Sichembe says cabinet needs to set up effective accountability systems before disbursing the Constituency Development Fund.

In an interview, Dr Sichembe said it would be a challenge to protect public funds in the absence of structures that would ensure accountability across the country.

“We are pushing to ensure that cabinet office sequence reforms in a way that will support the accountability to be very effective. We need structures that are able to insulate or protect the funds to be available. We need to ensure that the CDF guidelines include the procurement, accounting, audit and all institutions that are responsible for accountability are first set up in the constituencies or provinces before they start sending the money,” Dr Sichembe said.

“By the time they start disbursing the funds, they will be insulated because you will have accountability systems put in place at the lower levels. Minus that, we will have a very big challenge. From where we stand as Office of the Auditor General we will audit and when we find issues, we will bring them to the attention of the public. So we have tried by all means to recommend and advise the cabinet that it is critical that with all these funds that are going to the lower levels, not only CDF, things should be put in place.”

Dr Sichembe said there was need to create capacity officers at lower levels owing to the huge amount of money that would be handled.

“As you are aware there is an abolishment of school fees, so the Ministry of Education will be receiving a lot of money in terms of grants. So we need to ensure that the cabinet office being the apex of the civil service should set up systems that are very robust and critical on the lower levels. The capacities are not there from the assessment that we have made, we need to make sure that the capacities are created and enhanced at lower levels,” said Dr Sichembe.