Govt to revise budgeting format

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Government has commenced the process of revising Zambia’s national budgeting format in order to achieve integrated development planning with the budget process as well as facilitate fiscal decentralisation among other objectives.
The exercise follows Finance Minister, Alexander Chikwanda`s announcement at the presentation of the 2014 national budget last year that Government would revise the current budget format to enhance public service delivery.
The exercise also comes after the subsequent approval of the Planning and Budget Policy by Cabinet in March this year.
A team of eight technocrats from the Ministry of Finance is in Pretoria to undertake a study of the country`s Department of National Treasury during which they will be taken through the South African
national budgeting system.
Chief Budget Analyst at the Ministry of Finance, Mwaka Mukubesa, explained May 12th  that the Zambian Government has picked on South Africa as a model because the country has been cited in the Open Budget Index as one of the success stories in effective budgeting.
The Open Budget Index is a system created by the American-based Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a research outfit that analyses the impacts of budget policies and promotes effective approaches to reducing poverty.
Mrs Mukubesa, who is leading the team, said approval of the Planning and Budget Policy by Cabinet envisages the re-engineering of development planning and budget process to enhance the performance or results orientation of the annual budget, improve budget transparency, facilitate more effective National Assembly oversight over public finances and raise accountability of Ministries, Provinces and other Spending Agencies.
She said Zambia has been using Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) system which she said has over the years presented some weaknesses such as bulky budget documentation which hinders effective decision making by the Legislature.
Mrs Mukubesa further said there was almost complete absence of information on the outputs that are to be delivered by spending the allocated funds in the Yellow Book which she said undermined
transparency and accountability, as well as the performances-focus of the budget.
The study tour includes lectures by senior South African Government officials speaking on issues relating to budget planning and preparation, as well as other issues linking to the objectives enshrined in the recently approved Zambian Planning and Budget Policy.
Mrs Mukubesa was speaking when her delegation paid a courtesy call on Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Muyeba Chikonde.
This is contained in a statement released to ZANIS in Lusaka by Press
Secretary at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, Patson Chilemba.

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