The recently released Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) 2018 report reveals some of the most startling extent of plunder, corruption and other illicit financial activities taking place in our country, where 60 percent of people live below the poverty line and 42 percent are classified as extremely poor.
The FIC 2018 report shows an increase in financial crimes in Zambia by 33% when compared to the 2017 report. In 2017, suspicious financial transactions amounted to K4.5 billion while 2018 has seen an increase to K6.1 billion.
The reports point out that the public procurement system in Zambia is the most vulnerable source of corruption, which is used to pilfer tax payers’ money.
In his blueprint for Zambia’s rapid economic transformation, dubbed “Zambia Must Prosper II”, prominent lawyer Kelvin Fube Bwalya (KBF) pointed out the various flaws in the our procurement system identical to the ones highlighted by the FIC 2018 report.
“The contention with the current procurement system is that it is skewed in favour of a few well connected individuals thereby entrenching serious inequalities in wealth distribution. More discomforting is the fact that we have allowed our procurement system to be abused to such an extent that we can accept something that should ordinarily cost us $11 million to cost us $42 million with some of our citizens not feeling any shame about it!,” KBF says in ZMPII p57. Some of the highly inflated tender prices in Zambia include:
1. Purchase of 42 fire tenders costing $42 million when the estimated value is $10.5 million.
2. Digital igration cost $273 million when the estimated cost is $144 million.
3. Michael Chilufya Sata Toll Gate cost $4.5 million when the estimated cost is $1 million.
4. KK International Airport cost $375 million when the estimated cost is $300 million.
5. Lusaka-Ndola Dual Carriage way cost $1.2 billion when the estimated cost is $500 million.
6. Copperbelt Roads Project cost $418 million when the estimated cost is $300 million.
7. Ndola Airport cost $395 million when the estimated cost is $300 million.
8. Security Housing project cost $275 million when estimated cost $200 million.
9. Lusaka L400 Roads project $300 million when the estimated cost is $200 million
KBF estimates that over $1.33 billion was lost in the projects highlighted above, only.However, he offers solutions to curb financial crimes that have seen tax payers lose money through such dubious activities by government officials.
“To curtail these crimes and abuses in the procurement systems, we must put price bench-marking before floating and awarding tenders. By bench-marking prices, procurement personnel will be tasked to shop around for a fair price in the market to have a good idea of how much certain services and goods cost…” he writes.
He has gone further by listing immediate measures that we need to take in our government procurement systems which include the following:
1. Correct and improve the prevention and detection systems in the tendering, evaluating and awarding of ALL public tenders.
2. Keep detailed records of all suspicious bidders with a view of investigating bid rigging or corruption.
3. Improve and maintain constant internal consultations with the competition and consumer protection commission before awarding of all suspicious tenders.
4. Prosecute and black list erring firms.