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Contrary to the thesis that claims weak legislative power vis-à-vis the executive is essential if economic modernisation and development are to be driven forward in third world countries, Zambia's developmental interests would be served by making the powers of parliamentary oversight of the public finances more effective. The problematic of 'financial indiscipline' in the public sector is analysed in terms of a nest of principal-agent relationships, between legislature and executive, political executive and bureaucratic executive, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the spending arms of government. Evidence from the Public Accounts Committee is used to illustrate the case for more enforceable mechanisms whereby government can be made accountable for the public finances. At the same time it is argued that more wide-ranging political changes are necessary if there is to be a significant reduction in 'financial indiscipline'.