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CABINET APPROVES The National Planning & Budgeting Policy and The National Strategy for Development of Statistics [2014-2018].

I wish to announce that Cabinet has approved the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS) and the National Planning and Budgeting Policy.

  1. IMPROVED GOVERNANCE AND COORDINATION OF THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL SYSTEM

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to firstly point out that good statistical governance lies at the heart of good economic governance. Robust, reliable data underpins successful structural reforms, policy formulation and results in informed interventions. In short sound statistics would result in sound decisions based on evidence based policy making.

Statistics do not only pin-point where the weaknesses lie in our economic and social systems. They also provide the basis for finding the right solutions to address them. Moreover, statistics allow us to measure the impact and therefore the success of our decisions; to monitor the progress; and to ensure we are on the right path in implementing our public policies. They also inform the public in a way that businesses and individuals are empowered to make correct decisions and judgments.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our Central Statistical office has for some time operated under the Census and Statistics Act of 1964. This piece of legislation has not changed with changing times. This statute is now inadequate given the policy, economic and administrative transformations experienced since 1964. As a result, the Central Statistical Office faces Challenges in expectations due to, among others, the following shortcomings in the National Statistical System:

1)   Multiplicity of producers of statistics with weak coordination and harmonization mechanisms;

2)   Duplication in the collection of statistics leading to resource wastefulness;

3)   Non-existence of Management Information Systems (MIS) in most Ministries/Institutions;

4)   Existence of data gaps even in Ministries/Institutions, thus making them ineffective and inefficient; and

5)   Absence of a central database (data warehousing, a central repository for statistical data).

In order to address the above, 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.

Having exhausted consultations, Cabinet has now approved the 2014-2018 National Strategy for Development of Statistics. The strategy will 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.

Highlights of the Strategy

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 will, among other things:

1)   raise the profile of statistics, and make them visible and readily accessible among the entire range of data users;

2)   provide good quality statistics according to internationally recognized quality dimensions of relevance, completeness, consistency, accuracy, timeliness and disaggregation;

3)   advocate for reliable statistics in informing the process ofbetter decision-making, enhancing faster growth, and ensuring more effective use of valuable resourcesfor development and poverty reduction;

4)   mobilize and properly use national and international resources available for statistics; andpromote coordinated investment in the development of statistical capacity; and meet the rising demand for statistics; and

5)   build robust capacity to respond to emerging issues/challenges.

Implementation Plan

Following approval of the NSDS by Cabinet, we will now engage the Attorney General on drafting a bill to amend the Census and Statistics Act of 1964.

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.

  1. THE NATIONAL PLANNING AND BUDGETING POLICY

The Second Development I would like to share with you is that Cabinet has approved the Planning and Budgeting Policy. You may recall that, the Government amended the Republican Constitution in 2009 by insertion of Article 118A which provided for enactment of the Planning and Budget Act to guide the planning and budget process and address the problem of uncoordinated and unsystematic sector approaches to national development planning and budgeting. The provision also seeks to introduce more transparency in the two processes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is worth noting that there has never been a policy on National Planning and Budgeting since attainment of sovereign self-rule and independence in 1964.

This issue has been a source of concern, even for oversight institutions such as Parliament who 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.

Given these shortcomings, the Government embarked on extensive consultations with Line Ministries, Provinces, Districts, Spending Agencies, the Private Sector, Non-Government Organisations, Cooperating Partners, Members of Parliament and other stakeholders to develop the National Planning and Budgeting Policy.

Having exhausted consultation processes, Cabinet has now approved the National Planning and Budgeting Policy which will providethe basis for the development of Planning and Budgeting legislation and prescribe subsequent guidelines to help systematically develop plans, budgets and monitorimplementation.

Highlights of the policy

1)   Guiding 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;

2)   Helping 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;

3)   Through subsequent legislation, strengthening the role of Parliament in monitoring debt contraction by the executive;

4)   Operating as a basis for the development of instruments for guiding stakeholders in setting priority programmes in their medium-term plans and budgets; and,

5)   Harmonising various plans at different tiers of Government and strengthening the linkages between plans and budgets to help accelerate the attainment of the Vision 2030.

Implementation Plan

Following approval of the policy by Cabinet, the following steps will now be undertaken:

1)   Launch of the National Planning and Budgeting Policy;

2)   Development of National Planning and Budgeting Bill;

3)   Enactment of the National Planning and Budgeting Act;

4)   Preparation of the Planning, Budgeting and Monitoring and Evaluation Manuals; and,

5)   Training of all stakeholders on the planning, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation manuals.

I thank you.

 

Fredson Yamba

Secretary to the Treasury

MINISTRY OF FINANCE

 

Lusaka, 8th May, 201