Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
Jun 08, 2014 News
President Donald Ramotar made a commitment to media operatives yesterday that Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, will hold a press conference to answer questions pertaining to the two critical modules of the Integrated Financial Management and Accounting System (IFMAS) which the Ministry has failed to operationalize over the past ten years.
IFMAS was implemented on January 1, 2004 under former President Bharrat Jagdeo. Its intention was to modernize the business of the Government. It is responsible for recording all financial data generated by the Government. These include the issuing of cheques, recording of warrants; contingencies fund advances and the generation of the annual financial statements.
The accounting system was specially designed to suit Guyana’s financial landscape at an estimated cost of US$660, 000. The five IFMAS modules which are currently in place are Controls, Appropriations, General Ledger, Expenditure, and Revenue and Treasury Management. The two which are not in place are the Purchasing and Inventory/Assets Modules.
Some financial analysts are of the view that in the absence of the two modules, billions of dollars in assets and consumables can go untraced.
They have even made reference to the 2012 Auditor General’s report which stated that a number of Ministries, Departments and Regions have been found in breach of the Stores Regulations, as they relate to accounting, inventory maintenance and the marking of Government property.
As it relates to IFMAS, the 2012 Auditor General’s report noted that it replaced some aspects of the previous manual system. It said that the system has several advantages over the previous manual system of operation, such as the avoidance of over spending, reduction in the processing time, and generation of timely reports, among others.
Although the Auditor General pointed to the advantages of the IFMAS over the manual system, the President stated during a press conference held at State House that he is not worried that billions in assets can go untraced as manual systems (alternatives) are in place.
President Ramotar said, “It is true that two models have not been operationalized as yet but it doesn’t mean that billions have gone untraced; that’s not true.”
Ramotar was then reminded that the operative words were “can go untraced”. To this he briefly stated, “Oh no…these things are still being done in a manual way and I suspect that they have to be done properly … (Minster within the Ministry of Finance) Juan Edghill addressed this issue in a statement where he explained it and I think you should probably go back to it .”
Earlier in the week Minister Edghill disseminated a press release explaining that the Ministry of Finance does not have the capacity to operationalize the two modules and that there are other alternatives.
However, yesterday this publication sought to question President Ramotar regarding the ‘manual alternatives’ in place, pointing out that the effectiveness of those very measures come into question when one takes into account the fact that the Auditor General’s report continues to be riddled with reports of “missing equipment, vehicles, incorrect inventory, improperly kept records, and missing receipts.”
The President responded, “As far as I am aware they still have agreements with the companies that helped to install these functions and the details of it I can’t give you at the moment but I am assured that what has been in the press is not the reality that exists on the ground and I will ask the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh to address that with you and clarify that issue as early as possible.”
Edghill in his missive had also highlighted the crucial functions of the two un-operationalized modules.
The Purchasing Module, he explained, seeks to provide the ability to carry out several functions, one of which includes creating purchase requisitions and purchase orders with self-creating commitments to reserve the necessary funds (fully integrated with the Appropriations Module currently installed).
As for the Inventory/Assets Module, two of the functions include the ability to create inventory and asset entries when entering a new record based on the requisitions, and the ability for tracking issues and receipts.
Based on the crucial functions highlighted by the Minister, he still insists that in the absence of the two modules, its financial systems are operating effectively.
Yet, the Auditor General’s report is fraught with 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.
Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, told this publication that in the absence of the modules, Guyana has a less than desirable accountability framework and as such billions of dollars in assets and consumables can go untracked.
“Those two modules are very important as they allow for the tracking of the physical assets. In their absence, it means that monies can be spent to acquire, for example, equipment or vehicles, and there would be no effective measures in place to trace them and to ensure that they are properly accounted for. In addition, when you expend funds to maintain those very assets, you would need a system in place to ensure that value for money is achieved and that money is not wasted.”
The anti-corruption advocate emphasized the urgent need for the two modules to be in place and operationalized to ensure proper accountability of all State assets.
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