By SIMON MUNTEMBA
It is comforting to note that the new dawn Government is working out modalities to pay contractors their outstanding arrears for works done dating back during the previous regime, the Zambia Association of Citizen Contractors (ZACCO) has said.
And ZACCO General Secretary, Danny Simumba said the association was shocked by Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Charles Milupi’s revelation that the PF administration over-procured road construction projects to the tune of over K127 billion without ascertaining the availability of funds for those projects.
In an interview, Mr Simumba said the association was comforted by the fact that the new administration was working out modalities to restructure the country’s huge debt burden, particularly the debt owed to road contractors which currently stood at about K127 billion.
He said the Zambian Construction Industry had continued to face the challenge of delayed payment to contractors as well as unpredictable financing of projects.
“However, we are comforted by the fact that the new dawn Government has intervened and are working out modalities to restructure the country’s huge debt burden, particularly the debt owed to road contractors which currently stands at about K 127 billion as recently disclosed by the Minister,” Mr Simumba said.
He said Government’s efforts to ensure smooth payment flow were praiseworthy and motivating to the Contractors.
He said ZACCO and its general membership countrywide would fully support Mr Milupi’s efforts and other intervention measures intended at progressively dismantling the arrears owed to contractors.
Mr Simumba also said that the association and it members would follow the Minister’s advice to cooperate by being patient as Government was aggressively and tireless working to clear all outstanding debt.
Mr Simumba further said Government’s initiative and move to devise a plan of ensuring that no contractor was sidelined from participating in public procurement was timely and highly commendable.
Therefore, he said, we applaud the Hon. Minister for his pro-activeness in tackling issues and also for providing leadership and direction towards fair and equal participation of all ZACCO in public procurement.
Meanwhile, Mr Simumba said the over-commitment and carelessness in the procurement of projects was not only frustrating and detrimental to the developmental agenda as well as a drawback on business enterprise growth in the Zambian Construction, but also an illegality on the part of the previous administration.
“This revelation is a serious indictment on the previous PF Administration and exposes their carelessness in the way decisions concerning public procurement were made during their time in running the affairs of this country,” he said.
He explained that the Public Procurement Act, 2020 in Section 56 prohibits the commencement of procurement proceeding without ascertaining whether the procurement is within budget or funds are available for the procurements.