New system stalls govt operations

National, Normal

The National- Friday, January 28, 2011

 THE Government’s agenda for the early implementation of this year’s K9.3 billion budget has been stalled for a whole month, Waigani sources have said.

That is because of the sudden introduction of a new, but largely untested, whole-of-government planning, budgeting, accounting and financial reporting system, known as the integrated financial management system (IFMS), to replace the PNG government accounting system (PGAS). 

The switch-over has affected opening of government accounts for the new year, and it is not known when the matter will be sorted out.

The government had announced at the end of last year, at the time Sam Abal was acting prime minister, that as this year was “the year of implementation” it wanted to get into action from the first week. He met with departmental heads on Jan 7 and made clear the government’s intentions and for these chief bureaucrats to get into action.

Sources said, however, this had not been possible for the past three weeks because the introduction of IFMS, however credible the package, has delayed the release of warrants by Treasury Department to other government departments and agencies in order for cheque payments for goods and services to be made on time.

They said the issuance of warrants is an activity that is supposed to be done at the beginning of every month according to every department’s and agency’s expenditure estimates and drawn from their annual budgetary allocations.

IFMS is a project administered by the Department of Finance and funded jointly by the government and donor agencies.

The National could not reach either the Department of Finance or IFMS authorities for comment yesterday.

Abal, the man who gave the directives for the early implementation of government programmes earlier this month is no doubt disappointed at the delay.

According to Abal’s press office, a month’s delay puts back work on a lot of well intended activities and programmes and adds unnecessary pressures on the government, ministers, politicians and bureaucrats.

At the same time providers of goods and services also cannot wait around while the government system tries to get itself organised. Time is money for them and that should be understood by government.