The National, Monday 13th May 2013
By ELIZABETH MIAE
GOVERNMENT agencies and entities have not been submitting up-to-date data as required by the Department of Treasury to prepare budget estimates for the next financial year, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was told last Friday.
The inquiry into the department’s annual budget estimates, budget processes and appropriation heard from Treasury Secretary Simon Tosali that the National Statistical Office (NSO) was one of the agencies that the department had problems getting information from.
“The (NSO) office is not in good shape to give quality data to assist us with planning for the budget,” Tosali said.
Committee chairman and Bogia MP John Hickey said the NSO was one of the most important agencies that should be providing Treasury with necessary information it needed to plan for the next budget.
Hickey said he would be speaking with National Planning Minister Charles Abel on what action he would be taking against NSO on the matter.
“The committee is very sympathetic to your department.
“Your department is given an honourable task of putting together a budget but you can only put together with the
information you have,” he said.
“The statistical office needs to provide data and it’s not been done year after year. It’s like we’re flying blind but we’re going to land at our destination.”
Hickey told Tosali that if departments were not providing data, their secretaries needed to be dealt with accordingly.
He also questioned Tosali on why the quarterly budget review reports for 2008 and 2009 were not submitted to the Department of Finance.
Tosali said one of their functions was to monitor how departments were implementing their budgets but the response had been poor.
“Whatever money is there, you have to execute it but you can’t get more,” he said.
The committee found from its research into the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs that local level governments (LLGs) have not been submitting their financial return reports dating back to 2004.
Hickey said that if the LLGs did that it would have a roll on impact on provincial governments and they would not report back to Treasury.
According to Tosali, the Department of Finance had district treasury officers on the ground to assist LLGs with the reports.
He said when reports were not submitted, the penalty would be to hold back warrants to release funds meant for service delivery but indirectly the ordinary people would be penalised.
“In most cases, the district treasuries do not give acquittals.”