The Zambian Cabinet has approved the 2014-2018 National Planning and Budgeting Policy and the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS), Secretary to the Treasury, Fredson Yamba, announced here Thursday.
Yamba expressed concern that there had never been a policy on National Planning and Budgeting since the attainment of sovereign self-rule and independence in 1964.
He said the issue had been a source of concern, even for oversight institutions such as parliament which require it to effectively analyse and approve estimates of revenues and expenditure and to assess the performance of plans and budgets, including monitoring of debt contraction.
Yamba said the strategy would not only provide the basis for improved governance and coordination of a system that meets demands of statistical information by the local and international community, but also be in line with new development frameworks which demand that the government effectively gathers, stores and updates statistical data for effective monitoring, evaluation and better decision making.
He noted that the country’s Central Statistical office had for some time operated under the Census and Statistics Act of 1964 which he said had not changed with changing times and as such this statute is now inadequate given the policy, economic and administrative transformations experienced since 1964.
Yamba explained that as a result, the Central Statistical office faces challenges in expectations due to multiplicity of producers of statistics with weak coordination and harmonization mechanisms; duplication in the collection of statistics leading to resource wastefulness; and non-existence of Management Information Systems (MIS) in most Ministries and Institutions, among other things.
“In order to address the issues, the government embarked on extensive consultations with Line Ministries, Provinces, Districts, Spending Agencies, the Private Sector, Non-Government Organisations, Cooperating Partners, and other stakeholders. This culminated in the development of the National Strategy for Development of Statistics,” Yamba said.
Following approval of the NSDS by cabinet, a bill will be drafted to amend the Census and Statistics Act of 1964.
According to Yamba, the implementation of the NSDS will ensure an effective National Statistical System for Zambia and promote a culture of evidence-based planning and decision-making.
An effective National Statistical System is expected, among other things, to raise the profile of statistics, and make them visible and readily accessible among the entire range of data users; provide good quality statistics according to internationally recognized quality dimensions of relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy, timeliness and disaggregation; and advocate for reliable statistics in informing the process of better decision-making, enhancing faster growth, and ensuring more effective use of valuable resources for development and poverty reduction.
He said: “Our vision for the long term is to make the National Statistical System become an efficient, effective and coordinated arrangement that will ensure sustainable production, analysis and dissemination of official statistics for national development.
“We will attain this vision by providing timely, accurate, reliable and relevant official statistics for evidence based policy and decision-making using highly qualified, motivated, professional staff and state of the art technology in response to the demand of data users.”
On the National Planning and Budgeting Policy, the Secretary to the Treasury said the policy would guide the country’s planning and budgeting process in setting priorities in the development agenda to ensure coordination, ownership, transparency and accountability in the development of national development plans and budgets.
It will also help to strengthen the oversight function of parliament to enable it effectively analyse and approve revenues and expenditure estimates and assess performance of the plans and budgets against the expected outputs and outcomes; and through subsequent legislation, strengthening the role of parliament in monitoring debt contraction by the executive.