The minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has challenged the accountant-general
of the federation to seek effective inter agency interaction to bring all government revenue and expenditure under its safety net and cut wastages.
The minister stressed that the office of the accountant-general plays a central and strategic role in reforming the public financial management which is currently plagued with problems such as corruption, high cost of governance, inadequate legislation, non-compliance with due process mechanism, poor motivation and emerging public performance reporting system.
Okonjo-Iweala, who was represented by her permanent secretary, Nwobia Daniel, gave the charge in Kaduna at the opening of a two-day retreat organised for directors of finance and accounts and heads of internal audit in federal ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.
The minister said the retreat was to remind them on the importance of their roles in the government’s transformation agenda, as well as tackle the challenges of leakages in government revenue and wastages in expenditure patterns in MDAs.
According to her, the participants are also expected to come up with strategies to ensure prudence in management of limited financial resources available for government’s use.
“At the end of the retreat, deliberate policies aimed at minimising corruption and strengthening the economy through efficient treasury management should be suggested to fine-tune the transformation agenda,” she urged.
Okonjo-Iweala explained that the reforms expected in public financial management will cover the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, Treasury Single Account, TSA, Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System, IPPIS.
It will also include development of national Chart of Accounts, COA, modernisation of the Internal Audit Functions, upgrading of Federal Treasury Academy and adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, IPSAS.
She said these reforms if pulled through are meant to ensure efficient public expenditure management, curb corruption, improve government revenue, enhance transparency and accountability.
“An independent revenue collection averaging 50-55 per cent of budgeted figures is no longer acceptable,” the minister stressed.
On his part, the accountant-general of the federation, Jonah Otunla, said 36 MDAs out of the 394 had been trained on GIFMIS, and that the remaining 358 would be trained in batches.
On the IPSAS, Otunla said that sensitisation and training were ongoing in the MDAs on the new format of reporting financial transactions of government.
He said the IPSAS cash basis would commence from 2014 financial year, while the accrual basis would come into operation by 2016.
He charged the participants to make recommendations on issues bodering on treasury management such as improving revenue base of government and addressing gap among treasury accountants.
Otunla also challenged them to suggest institutional restructuring of the nation’s treasury for improved performance, ways to address challenges of cash planning and expenditure discipline and forum for efficient public financial management.