Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani says his office has started auditing arrears or claims made by suppliers of goods and services to government to verify their authenticity before making any payments.
The development comes in the wake of the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill by civil servants and private companies widely known as Cashgate.
In a press statement signed by Mangani yesterday, the Ministry of Finance acknowledged that government is in arrears in payment for goods and services from suppliers dating back to 2012.
He said: “The government would like to inform all concerned stakeholders that it is committed to settling all arrears as soon as practically possible.”
But Mangani said as a pre-requisite, government has began the process of auditing and verifying the arrears.
He has since advised those owed to wait for notifications from government on how settlement will be made once the auditing and verification exercise is completed.
Government owes the private sector suppliers of goods and services about K150 billion.
In his 2014/15 National Budget Statement, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said government is expected to pay about K50 billion arrears owed to the private sector.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya has since commended government, saying this is one way of ensuring accountability in terms of honouring outstanding invoices.
He, however, said it is necessary to verify each and every invoice, especially in the light of Cashgate which saw unscrupulous people receiving huge sums of money from public coffers without fulfilling contractual obligations.