Columnists

Development through socio-economic infrastructure

JOSHUA BANDA

JOSHUA BANDA
ON FRIDAY, September 28, 2018, the Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe presented to National Assembly the 2019 budget. The budget contains estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.
Speaking on behalf of President Edgar Lungu, the minister outlined different roadmaps for the country. Among the roadmaps was a review of the global and domestic economic developments for 2018, budget performance, debt position, monetary and financial performance and updates on implementation of reforms.
In the 2019 Budget, the government proposes to spend K86.8 billion, which will translate into 28.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Expending financial resources starts with planning. As the old adage goes, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Different sectors of government convened to plan for 2019. The need was identified for various socio-economic infrastructure to be dotted around the country. The Public Procurement Act No 12 of 2008, Section 21 clearly supports the identification of need before the procurement process could commence.
Lucy Mandengenda from the African Development Bank has a motto, ‘Delayed implementation is denied justice’. When funds are readily available, implementation of programmes should not be delayed but implemented as planned.
Government intends to spend K6.5 billion on road infrastructure, K415.8 million on various energy power infrastructure, K601.6 million university and college infrastructure, K258.8 million for completion and rehabilitation of school infrastructure across the country.
Further, the government proposes to spend K900.1 million on medical supplies for health centres and hospitals. Under the same sector, the government has allocated K620.2 million towards the various infrastructure development project that are currently underway. While K7.6 million has been allocated for on-going construction and rehabilitation of correctional facilities, and K1.98 has been allocated for the water supply and sanitation programme.
At design stage, it is advisable that designers of infrastructure adopt modern designs, which will add beauty to infrastructure once implemented. From the word go, it should be known that what is required is infrastructure that will stand the taste of time and will define the purpose of its existence. The procurement fraternity refers to this process as defining technical specifications. This is a very crucial stage because the country will either achieve the objective or miss it if the technical specifications are not well defined.
At implementation stage, every procuring entity is required to confirm the availability of funding so that projects can be ignited smoothly. For multiyear contracts for infrastructure and other categories, it is advisable that the budget reflects in each and every financial year until successful completion of the projects over the years. This process is in agreement with Statutory Instrument No 63 of 2011, Regulation 31.
During implementation, it is very important that the contract manager or project manager, even a contract management team, is appointed. The purpose of the contract manger is to ensure that the project runs within the given delivery period and adherence to other contractual obligations is observed. Section 57 of the Public Procurement Act acknowledges appointment of a contract manager.
They say knowledge is power. I would like to share with our local contractors that they are key to economic development of our nation. Some contractors fail to deliver on time despite receiving funding from government. The consequences of late delivery of projects to the contractor are reduced profits, loss of confidence in the contractor by the employer and limiting the growth of the contractor. This means that the contractor will maintain the same grade and category hence failing to compete with other reputable contractors. At the same time, the nation will fail to achieve the objective of opening access roads leading to the markets and other set goals.
Delivering projects on time has numerous benefits to the enterprise, which include increased profits, enhanced corporate image and increased opportunity of growing the business as well as enhanced socio-economic development to the nation.
Comparatively, the economic odometer is ticking faster and faster around the globe. Every country is in a hurry to bring development to its people, especially the underprivileged. Undoubtedly, Zambia is no exception. The country through relevant sectors has identified the need for various infrastructure across its breadth and width. This is highly supported by the Public Procurement Regulations, which encourage end users to identify the various needs so that the procurement process can commence.
The author is former chairperson for Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Zambia.

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