Govt still drafting GST concept paper – Mwanakatwe
By Staff Reporter
Finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe says government is still drafting a concept paper of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) before circulating to the public for analysis and feedback.
Last week, opposition PeP president Sean Tembo accused ministry of finance of incompetence for failing to show direction and leadership over the implementation of the GST.
In a statement released by ministry of finance spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta , Mwanakatwe was speaking during the Ministry of Finance visioning and milestone setting seminar on economic policy, fiscal affairs and financial management, held a few days ago at the ministry’s headquarters in Lusaka.
He said the Minister directed the Budget and Economic Affairs Division to continue overseeing the policy engagement and consultation process with stakeholders in order to finalise the concept paper and draft legislation for the GST, “in readiness for implementation with effect from, 1st April, 2019.”
Meanwhile, Kandeta said the implementation of the 2019 national budget through treasury disbursements is progressing well.
“To date, the Government has released over K4.1 billion for various government operations, development programmes, social security, and debt service,” he explained. “Of the total amount released, the Farmer Input-Support Programme has received K300 million to cater for speedy implementation of both the e-voucher and the direct redeeming initiative for the 2018/2019 farming season”.
He said the treasury released K745.5 million between October and December, 2018, for the same purpose, bringing the total amount released for the current farming season to K1.05 billion.
Kandeta said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) had received K30 million this month while it got K193 million between October and December, 2018, bringing the total for the period October, 2018 to January 2019 to K223 million.
“The funds given to FRA are targeted at facilitating the procurement of maize and other grains in order to meet the strategic reserve requirements,” he said. “The funds are also meant to help liquidate some outstanding bills”.
Kandeta said the Social Cash Transfer Programme had received K65 million while the Food Security Pack had been given K25 million with the targeted number of beneficiaries for the Food Security Pack in the 2018/2019 farming season being 80,000 households.
On the implementation of the Public Finance Act, 2018, Mwanakatwe instructed the Accountant General to ensure that the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Commitment Control System were fully operational in all ministries, provinces and controlling bodies in order to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to zero irregularities in audit events related to the 2019 national budget cycle and beyond.
Kandeta said Mwanakatwe emphasized that the Ministry of Finance could not be seen to relent in fostering and anchoring fiscal prudence.
The Minister has also affirmed President Edgar Lungu’s instructions on prudential financial management and austerity measures to ensure that public resources were properly utilized and accounted for so that the people of Zambia benefitted from developmental programmes and service delivery initiatives.
“We have also developed a monitoring dashboard for implementation of austerity measures so that we track the efforts that are being taken by all public entities in complying with the presidential guidance,” she added.
Kandeta said a detailed brief of budget releases for January, 2019, would be circulated in the first week of February, 2019.