Editor's Comment

Zambia needs smart expenditure

Government complex.

THE suspension of inputs into the November payroll for the civil service will have a negative impact to workers who were expecting to receive loans and advances.
Much as this measure will affect the civil servants because their plans will be put on hold, Government has been left with no option to come up with such a decision in view of the ongoing programme to clean-up the payroll.
The measure is inevitable for Government to establish the number of people on the payroll.
This is important because over the years, there could be workers who have died, resigned and retired but are still appearing on the payroll.
Wages constitute over 80 percent of government expenditure every month.
While Government is determined to continue paying workers for the services they render to the country, it is also necessary to conduct a headcount to establish the correct numbers.
In the past, such a task was difficult given the breadth and depth of the country, but thanks to information technology, the verification is, or should be, faster. Smart Zambia, which is spearheading this process, is fishing out the anomalies pretty quickly.
The use of the Smart Zambia project is very handy in this respect as well as other aspects of running government.
It is commendable that Government is investing more in technology through Smart Zambia because when Government leverages on this technology, it will be able to operate more efficiently and realise a lot of savings that can reduce the pressure on the country’s treasury.
Government’s initiative to clean up the payroll is commendable though this exercise is long overdue. It is, however, better late than never.
Already, the efforts are paying off with some ghost workers and anomalies being discovered.
By the time this task will be ending, it is expected that Government would have sealed a key loophole through which money was being stolen.
There are several benefits which will arise from this exercise. Of paramount importance is the saving that Government will be making or the opportunity for Government to employ actual people who will give a service for the money that should have gone to ghost workers.
Another benefit is that the exercise sends a strong message to potential wrongdoers that they cannot carry out these illegalities with impunity.
This message will be stronger if the offenders are prosecuted.
Most often, some citizens accuse Government (meaning senior leadership) of corruption and yet the levels of abuse of office and corruption are evidently rampant at lower levels of authority.
The decentralisation of human resources personnel at all levels of government departments was expected to deal with matters of eliminating ghost workers from the payroll. This should continue being the objective.
In fact, some of the savings from the elimination of ghost workers and other anomalies could be channelled to redeeming the local debt.
This would put more money in people’s pockets and in circulation. Such is what Zambia’s economy needs to put more verve in it.
Let this exercise be only one of mony in the various areas of public expenditure. With close scrutiny of how money is spent, more anomalies are bound to be found, and in so doing more resources will be available for use in service delivery.
Zambia cannot afford to overlook any possible abuse of expenditure. Every ngwee has to be accounted for.
Zambians ought to also make it their responsibility to be the eyes and ears of Government in the use of resources. After all, it is their money.
You cannot expect Smart Zambia, as smart as they may be, to be in all places all the time. They need the support of all those that care for proper use of public resources.

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