By Hope Imaka – EM TV Online
A new monitoring and evaluation tool introduced to the PNG Department of Finance has improved timeliness on public expenditure reporting by 14 per cent. Prior to the employment of this tool nine districts out of 89 submitted timely reports; the number has since improved to a total of 37 districts.
Such progress is significant to the Department of Finance, which faces serious backlogs in receiving financial reports from the 600 government accounts it manages, with some districts delaying reports for over 50 months.
To improve its financial reporting and control functions, the Department of Finance with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a new management system that aims to boost efficiency, transparency and accountability.
The system is an information database that captures financial reports coming from the provinces and districts and produces real-time status updates. The timeliness of submissions is reflected in three colours: green (on time submission), yellow (moderate delay – three-six months) and red (critical – seven or more month delay). The updates are reflected on TV screens installed across the Department of Finance, including the office of the Secretary.
“I start my day by looking at the updates and we have a positive feedback in terms of increasing the number of reporting. Initially people were reluctant to engage, but when we publicly showed where they are, many districts started to come forward, because they did not want to look bad in front of everyone. While reporting is mandatory and required by the legislation, people have not been following this requirement. Now when the system shows information publicly, many people feel the pressure and make efforts to perform better than before. With this tool we hope to develop the culture of reporting,” said Dr. Ken Ngangan, Secretary of the Department of Finance.
In the last six years more than 5,000 staff has been trained, and more than 10 computer labs in the provinces have been opened. The programme was also able to support several Department of Finance strategic priorities, including the implementation of PEFA international standards; lunch of cashless policy and the country’s adherence to the global ‘Better Than Cash Alliance’, championing the ‘Phones Against Corruption’ initiative, which was recognised by UNDP as one of the most innovative interventions in the Asia and Pacific Region.
“We feel that our performance is now being monitored closely. There is a tool that follow us. Every time we come to the office we see our information on the screens everywhere in the Department. It gives us motivation to get things done,” says Joe Warapio, Provincial Treasurer from Enga Province.
The tool is also expected to help in addressing more complex issues, which are the root-cause of the delays. With the new M&E system, critical areas, which need support and intervention, can be identified and addressed.
Plans are in place for the tool that is currently supported by UNDP’s Provincial Capacity Building program to be handed over to the Department of Finance.
Program Chief Technical Specialist, Tito Balboa, says it’s a sign of success.
“We are happy that the monitoring and evaluation tool is already in demand. Now we are in a pilot phase, but after we develop it, add more features, fix all the processes we will handover it to the Department,” he said.
This work is part of UNDP’s larger initiative, which works in 13 provinces of Papua New Guinea to build financial management capacity of provincial treasuries, providing them with on the job training, mentoring and coaching support.