When the Integrated Financial Management and Accounting System was introduced in 2004 it was said that there would be greater transparency and accountability in Public Finances. Record keeping would become centralized. Instead of using thousands of ledgers in hundreds of offices, there would be a central database.
Comparing information between offices would become simpler too since everything would be accessible electronically. Guardians of the people’s hard earned dollars, among them the Auditor General and his auditors, would have been able to do their jobs more efficiently.
The IFMAS is specially configured to meet the reporting and recording needs of the Guyanese Public Financial Sector. It is a reconfigured version of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) which is the trade name for the software sold by FreeBalance. FreeBalance is a Canadian company that specializes in software designed for large scale financial management, especially Public Financial Management.
Guyana is only one of a number of countries to which FreeBalance has sold this software platform. It came with seven specific modules integrated into the structure: Appropriation, Expenditure, General Ledger, Budget Preparation & Reporting System (BPRS), Purchasing, Revenue and Asset & Inventory Modules.
In the Auditor General’s Report that was released this year, it states, “The Accountant General explained that plans are being made to implement the Purchasing and Asset and Inventory Modules.”
These two modules of the Integrated Financial Management and Accounting System (IFMAS) which are supposed to report all of the Government’s financial transactions have not been implemented even though the rest of IFMAS has been in force for six years.
FreeBalance, on their official website, gives an overview of the information that would have been recorded under these two modules.
According to FreeBalance their Asset and Inventory module allows Governments to track a range of variables such as, “… renewal of service contracts, insurance policies, warranty periods, software licensing and services rendered.”
The module lets Governments monitor modifications to asset records and manage asset items in all of the previously mentioned areas. The company also provides automatic item depreciation calculations that help Governments “identify the true value of public assets.”
Yet the Auditor General’s Report is littered with incidents of missing service records for equipment and vehicles of all kinds – thereby making it impossible to track and justify maintenance spending on these items.
There are reports of vehicles being retained and serviced at annual costs far in excess of the estimated depreciated values of these vehicles since valuations of these items are not regularly done.
Contracts end, warranty periods expire and insurance policies run out costing the tax payers extra dollars while this software could have been tracking these issues if it had been implemented.
The Purchasing Module offers an even more interesting range of services. According to FreeBalance it provides “an integrated procurement process” that “manages multi-item requisitions and purchases and the receiving process”. The module overview goes on to say that it allows for flexible expenditure management around “hard limits, percentage limits, budget, and waiver ceilings.” It also offers the creation of “obligations” for purchase orders that see subsequent liquidation upon receipt and payment of goods. The system even tracks shipments against purchase orders.
Contrast those offerings to media reports of goods that go ‘missing’, budgetary excesses by numerous Government agencies and the constant cry of procurement inconsistencies across the board in every single facet of Government.
So why doesn’t the Government want to track purchasing and inventory?
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