National development planning minister, Alexander Chiteme has announced that government is in the process of setting up a Public-Private Investment board which will be required to approve all Public Investment projects before their implementation.
This follows the concerns raised by the public that some projects that are currently being financed are not scrutinized and weighed against investment grade parameters such as net present value and whether they meet the desired internal rate of return.
The work of the Public Investment Board will be anchored on the Public Investment Management System. Chiteme said the board will also aid implementation of the austerity measures as this scrutiny will help to manage escalating costs on public investments and bring them to the most bearable levels that will guarantee value for money both for the Government and beneficiaries.
“The ultimate objective for putting in place the Public Investment Board is to provide policy direction in the selection of the public projects that will ultimately have higher impacts,” he said.
The board will scrutinize the cost implications between the envisaged outcomes and financial input and make recommendations on the most feasible financing modalities of such projects.
The national planning minister says the system will provide a data base to enable the board understand the nature, focus and desired outcomes of the projects and determine whether the proposed public investment projects are aligned with national objectives and priorities and can be implemented in a cost effective manner.
He adds that once Cabinet approves the names of the persons to sit on the board, he will make known to the public the names of the office bearers.
“The terms of reference to guide the operations of the board have been developed and the composition in terms of institutional representation has also been determined,” he said.
This is a good initiative but needs to have well built controls to avoid a situation were all future projects approved are mostly located in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.
There has to be clear guidelines on how Western and Luapula provinces which are today considered the least developed regions in Zambia will also get a share of investments to lift them out of the current economic doldrums.