The Executive Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee (IMCC) on Decentralisation, Ing. Salifu Mahama, has said the success of decentralisation required sufficient financial resources to perform essential expenditure functions and responsibilities assigned to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).
This, he said, was one of the reasons the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2016 (Act 921) was passed to encourage and ensure judicious use of resources and improve financial management systems in the public sector.
Ing Mahama was speaking at the opening of a zonal workshop to retrain staff of all 254 MMDAs on the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (GIFMIS) which simultaneously took place in Sunyani, Kumasi and Accra.
GIFMIS contributes to improving aggregate expenditure control, predictability of financial flows, expenditure and investment planning, ability to monitor expenditures and fiscal accountability.
The workshop seeks to build the capacity and increase the knowledge of staff of the local government service on the GIFMIS which has become a pillar of the PFM system to enhance effective implementation of the reform agenda.
The workshop created an opportunity for the 38 newly created MMDAs to set-up and hook on live to the GIFMIS platform.
It also gave the participants a platform to provide information and feedback on the status and reliability of connectivity at the MMDAs level.
The workshop was organised by the IMCC Secretariat in collaboration with the Fiscal Decentralisation Unit and PFM-Reform Project under the Ministry of Finance and the GIFMIS Secretariat under the Controller and Accountant General Department.
He said the workshop was a classic example of the unquestionable zeal and enthusiasm to accelerate two significant reforms, the decentralisation reforms and the PFM reforms.
Ing Mahama said, while decentralisation aspires to transfer essential functions to the sub-national level, its responsibilities come with the fundamental need to ensure that funds that follow these functions are efficiently managed and accounted for.
He said the increased use of the GIFMIS for transactions was as a result of the expanded coverage of the platform to capture, track and report transactions related to funds.
The executive secretary said the relevance of technology to achieve modernisation and efficiency in government financial management should not be underestimated.
He announced that the PFM-RP and the GIFMIS team has worked to ensure that all the then 216 MMDAs had gone live with GIFMIS and currently on-going with its usage stabilisation.
He said since the introduction of GIFMIS across MMDAs, some progress has been made despite the fact that monitoring reports have revealed some operational challenges which include inadequate understanding and skills of the users at the sub-national level, poor record keeping on public financial transactions, undue delays in processing transactions due to the cumbersome parallel automated and manual processes in the release of funds, weak accounting and fiscal reporting system and delays in financial reporting.
Ing Mahama expressed the conviction that the participants will return to their various assemblies with improved skills to deploy GIFMIS in their budgeting, revenue and expenditure management, debt and cash management, asset management, accounting and financial reporting to improve efficiency, comprehensiveness and transparency in PFM in their MMDAs.
“I am personally interested in how we can find ways to improve our procurement processes and will be happy to hear your experiences about the rollout of the Procure–to-Pay (P2P) module of the GIFMIS which is intended to impose greater discipline on the management of transactions.”
He also advised the participants to continually polish their information and communication technology skills, since GIFMIS revolves around the utilisation of technology to manage the government’s budget, revenue and expenditure.
The IMCC is responsible for coordinating decentralisation reforms across sector MDAs which include core “local government sector” institutions such as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Office of the Head of Local Government Service and other relevant MDAs.
The ongoing decentralisation reform is driven by the National Decentralisation Policy Framework and Action Plan (2015-2019).