POOR governance and financial malpractices in the country, if not addressed, will exacerbate public mistrust and compromise tax compliance, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has warned.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In its analysis of the 2017 Auditor-General (AG)’s report findings, Zimcodd said government’s failure to enforce good corporate governance in public institutions could breed serious consequences in the near future.
“Poor governance and financial malpractices, if not addressed, will exacerbate and perpetuate public mistrust and compromise tax compliance. Poor public finance management contravenes the social contract between citizens and government, which is vital in domestic resource mobilisation,” Zimcodd said.
According to the AG’s 2017 report, all ministries were reluctant to adhere to laid down laws and procedures of public finance management, resulting in financial irregularities for the year under review and exceeding the 2016 figure by $36,4 million.
Despite the growing public interest in the findings of the AG’s report, Zimcodd said there has been a lack of political will to enforce the recommendations, hold the perpetrators accountable and enforce appropriate penalties and disciplinary action.
“This has resulted in increasing public mistrust and, therefore, low tax compliance considering that the government is misusing and abusing national resources. The government, thus, has a daunting task to restore the public confidence and the first step is addressing the recommendations in the AG’s report,” it said.
Zimcodd said institutions entrusted to safeguard and keep custody of national resources abuse them instead.
“This makes citizens feel cheated when the country’s national resources are not used in the most economic, efficient and effective way as provided for in our Constitution,” Zimcodd said.
It recommended Parliament to come up with clear mechanisms for the continuous monitoring of public resources and provision for redress during implementation of the budget rather than waiting for the AG’s report. This would go a long way in fostering fiscal discipline.
“Civil society organisations should facilitate to strengthen citizen oversight in public finance management by creating spaces for dialogue and interface between the citizens as right holders and government authorities as solution holders”.