By Delly Bagu – EM TV, Port Moresby
Too often we hear of national leaders and government departments implicated in the mismanagement of public funds or failure to submit financial reports.
The new government accounting system, the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), is said to alleviate some of these issues.
The IFMS replaces the old Papua New Guinea Government Accounting System (PGAS).
Andres Rehbein, from the IFMS Project team, said it is important for a growing nation like Papua New Guinea to have a true accounting system to back the views and the future direction of the government.
In order to achieve that, the IFMS brings budgeting from the department of treasury and accounting from the department of finance, to give control back to the departments to control their finances.
“Before, the PGAS was located in each of the government departments, and it was like a stand-alone system. This is a centralised government system, so it allows the department of finance to get a good view across all other departments in real time. Before, departments needed to carry the data to the Department of Finance and that needed to be loaded… these days it’s automatic. As soon as they enter the data, it’s real time into the one data base. It also allows the departments to print financial reports, financial statements, warrants; all that information instantly,” Mr Rehbein said.
It also allows government departments to start executing their warrants as soon as Treasury releases them. Previously, government departments had to go and pick up the warrant, bring it back and type it into PGAS. Now, the warrants get released and automatically, within seconds, the department has access to those warrants to start spending money.
Acting Secretary for the Department of Finance, Dr. Ken Ngangan, said, “The project has run for more than 10 years but it has only been operating within the Vulupindi Haus within Finance, Treasury and Planning. We have been struggling to push it out to government agencies, and we are glad that secretary and his department have offered to be the trial basis.
“This is part of the process improvement to the reformation of the public finance management and we are now carrying out. We are now wanting to see more transparent and accountable public finance management,” Dr Ngangan said.
Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, Secretary of the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG), said the system at the department is now live and he hopes it will cut costs and ease access to generating the financial accounting information they want.
“Ourselves and various other government departments have been in the spotlight for various reasons which are not very kind in terms of when the interest of the state is concerned, and the revenue of the state is concerned. That’s why we were keen to have a system like this that gives us greater transparency and accountability for the money that we receive on behalf of the people of this country,” Dr. Kalinoe said.
Dr Ngangan then handed over the first IFMS cheque that was run from DJAG.
The IFMS project team said it is looking at rolling out the system to 18 departments this year, and remaining departments the following year.
Plans are also underway for the extension of IFMS to the provinces, districts, and local level governments.