‘Prudent use of resources key to decentralisation’

The Executive Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee (IMCC), Ing. Salifu Mahama, has said the success of government’s decentralisation efforts is largely hinged on sufficient and prudent use of financial resources.

In this regard, he said, the relevance of technology to achieve modernisation and efficiency in government financial management should not be underestimated, especially with the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).

“While decentralisation aspires to transfer essential functions to the sub-national level, its responsibilities come with the fundamental need to ensure that funds which follow these functions are efficiently managed and accounted for.

“Decentralisation requires sufficient financial resources to perform essential expenditure functions and responsibilities assigned to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs),” he said at the opening of a zonal workshop for retrained staff of all the 254 MMDAs on the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (GIFMIS), which took place simultaneously in Sunyani, Kumasi and Accra.

GIFMIS is an integrated computerised financial management system used by the government of Ghana to facilitate key PFM processes for all public funds: including the Consolidated Funds, Internally Generated Funds, Statutory Funds and Donor Funds across Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and MMDAs.

It was introduced to reduce fiduciary risk by enabling greater transparency and reducing manual intervention in financial transactions, with the attendant results of preventing corruption and enhancing effective service delivery.

GIFMIS contributes to improving aggregate expenditure control, predictability of financial flows, expenditure and investment planning, ability to monitor expenditures and fiscal accountability.

The workshop sought to build the capacity and increase the knowledge of staff from the local government service on the GIFMIS, which has become a pillar of our PFM system, to enhance effective implementation of the reform agenda.

It created an opportunity for the 38 newly-created MMDAs to set-up and hook on Live to the GIFMIS platform and also gave participants a platform to provide information and feedback on the status and reliability of connectivity at the MMDA 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’s Department.

Ing. Mahama indicated that the PFM-RP and the GIFMIS team has worked to ensure that all the then-216 MMDAs had gone Live with GIFMIS, and is 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 subnational level; poor record-keeping on public financial transactions; undue delays in processing transactions due to cumbersome parallel automated and manual processes in the release of funds; weak accounting and fiscal reporting systems; and delays in financial reporting.

Ing. Mahama expressed 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 of 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 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, 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).

The IMCC Secretariat supports policy coordination as well as relevant legal and institutional reforms, especially those that have become critical as a result of passing the Local Governance Act of 2016 (Act 936) and the PFM Act 921, among others.

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