Vice President Saulos Chilima says the government should punish Controlling Officers who fail to adhere to public finance management guidelines.
Chilima made the remarks on Wednesday during a meeting with Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu on reforms in the ministry.
Chilima said one of the challenges that the ministry outlined is the lack of compliance by Controlling Officers to follow new measures and guidelines aimed at ensuring efficiency and professionalism in public finance management.
“I spoke strongly about instituting sanctions for those failing to adhere to the guidelines. I have since asked the ministry to consider putting in place systems that would track Controlling Officer who do not comply with the guidelines so that they are held responsible,” said Chilima.
During the meeting, the ministry presented three key reform areas aimed at establishing functional internal audit system, configuring Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to integrate all government accounts and ensuring that payment systems are working efficiently.
“The Ministry has since established an Inspectorate of Finance within the Central Audit Unit to carry out pre-audit of payment transactions and certify payment vouchers in accordance with regulations. This is an important exercise that ensures that tax-payers’ money is being put to its intended use.
“We agreed that the ministry must continue to tighten bank reconciliation controls because this laxity is what facilitated Cash-gate in 2013. In the same vein, I suggested that the new IFMIS must become functional at all levels, not just in 10 ministries and departments as it is the case currently.
Chilima, however, expressed concern at the continued downtime that takes place with IFMIS. He said government has made investments in E-government hence connectivity cannot be an excuse.
Another reform area the ministry presented is on the implementation of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), which so far, is only made possible with the salaries account.
Chilima advised the ministry to make sure there is a cut-off point to migrate all transactions to EFT as this is the most efficient way of making payments.
He also asked the ministry to prioritize critical reform areas and categorize them into Institutional, Legal and Operational reforms for smooth tracking.