THE Government has accused co-operating partners of shifting goal posts in the resumption of support to the Ministry of Health which was suspended after it emerged that some officials had stolen about K27 billion.
The governments of Netherlands and Sweden froze more than K100 billion in funding to the Ministry of Health and have not resumed the support.
Netherlands ambassador to Zambia Harry Molenaar said because of the global economic crisis, constituencies in donor countries had become much more critical of the case for continued support to developing counties in the form of government-to-government development assistance.
Mr Molenaar said over the past months, new mechanisms of consultation had emerged with a view to discussing measures to counter problems of governance and closely monitor the progress towards effective remedies against the abuse of disbursed resources.
Meanwhile Ministry of Health spokesperson Reuben Mbewe said the Zambian Government met all the conditions that the donors set in the first phase of the revised financial management action plan intended to ensure that resources were used for the intended purposes.
Dr Mbewe said it was amazing that the donors were now demanding that Government should even meet some of the conditions in phase two before funding to the ministry could be reinstated.
Dr Mbewe said the donors were not being sincere and had resorted to shifting goal posts instead of fulfilling their part of the obligation.
“The Government has met all the conditions in phase one which should allow for the resumption of support to the Ministry of Health. However, it is now surprising that the same donors who set the conditions in phase one are now insisting that they can only resume funding to the ministry if we meet the conditions of phase two of the action plan.
“We are wondering how they can start making such demands when they knew what they had given us in the first phase. We cannot meet the conditions in the second phase at this stage. It is now up to them to fulfill their part of the arrangement by releasing the first phase of aid to the ministry,” Dr Mbewe said.
Last month, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane urged co-operating partners to fulfill their commitments by ensuring timely disbursement of their monthly contributions.
Dr Musokotwane said there were a number of co-operating partners that deviated substantially from monthly commitments, leading to funding pressure on the national Budget.
He said the step taken by co-operating partners forced the treasury to seek more expensive sources of finance and urged them to adhere to their commitments since the Government was addressing the financial irregularities.
Dr Musokotwane said the disruption of monthly commitments by the cooperating partners was against the spirit of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreed with the Government.
[Times of Zambia]