Minister of Works and Supply Honourable Felix Mutati has called on the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) to partner with the office of the Auditor General so as to promote ethical standards.
And Mr. Mutati says the lukewarm attitude of some accountants in the country worries Government , they are one of the most competent professions in Zambia.
The Minister said as intelligent professionals they should never let others be at the centre of the public policy process adding that accountants should endeavour to be at the centre and not become by-standers by letting others be ahead of them while they ( the accountants ) be very critical of others which he said should not be the case.
Mr. Mutati emphasised that there is need to change course and participate fully in policy formulation processes.
He was speaking when he officiated at the ZICA annual ball held in Livingstone on Saturday night.
“We are not poor because we lack resources. We are poor because the resource is wasted. And we are the custodian or gate keep of that resource. As you leave Livingstone make sure that you lock the gate and the resources are kept and not wasted,” he said.
Mr Mutati praised the outgoing ZICA Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Hapenga Kabeta whom he described as having an attitude of “positive stubbornness” which he said has helped ZICA become solid.
He said beginning this year, two things that have happened to the accounts profession in the country and specifically in the public service is that the accountants will no longer report to the human resource personnel but direct to the Controlling Officer.
Mr. Mutati said the second issue that is being attended to is that of having an enabling legal framework through the passage of the Public Finance Act and includes penalties for those that “are gifted to take what does not belong to them, they will be penalised” including prison sentence.
He added that what is much more important is that the new Public Finance Act has removed all what may be described as invisible hands in the process.
Mr Mutati also noted that the Accountant General whose level has been raised to that of Permanent Secretary cannot report an accountant who misbehaves to ZICA so that such a person can be deregistered.
“I think these issues can minimise the concerns that are raised in the Auditor General’s report. So, we are giving a choice to the public sector accountants that if in the event that you do not like the operating environment the legislation has put in place don’t stay, make a choice and go and work somewhere else,” he said.
Mr Mutati also revealed that a Statutory Instrument for fees has been passed and that accounts professionals will now be regulated by law unlike in the past when there was a negotiated system of fees with clients.
And Mr Kabeta urged the accountants to embrace the ICT platform as the profession enters into the digital world whose main aim is to provide efficiency of doing business that will benefit the clients.
He encouraged every member to be abreast with the technology and move in tandem with the latest development adding that soon a ZICA App will be established.
Meanwhile, ZICA president Jason Kazilimani has challenged his members to become good ambassadors of the profession and work towards attracting new entries in the ranks by encouraging young people to join.
“You are the torch bearer of the institute. You ethical conduct and behaviour as accountants in your both professional and personal life has a great reflection on the profession. Good behaviour is not an option but a must,” he said.
This is contained in a statement made available o ZANIS in Lusaka yesterday By Issued Ministry of Works and Supply Ndubi Mvula