By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh while rejecting criticisms surrounding the two unused modules of Guyana 10 – year – old Integrated Financing Management and Accounting System (IFMAS), has pointed out that the system has in fact revolutionized the management of public financing in Guyana.
According to Dr. Singh, the “raging furor” about the two unused modules (Purchasing and Asset/Inventory) is nothing short of a manufactured controversy.
Speaking to the media Thursday evening (June 12), Dr. Singh claimed that the criticisms were a matter of taking technical issues and making them political. He said it was also an attack on his technical officers whose integrity is unquestionable and incomparable.
In particular response to a newspaper article headline which stated: “Jagdeo deceived the nation,” Dr. Singh said “you honestly believe that the president of a country inserts himself in which accounting module should be implemented and when, and how it should be customized, you honestly believe that? …Is that what you put us there to do?…I have neither the inclination or the mandate to insert myself into such technical matters. Under all normal circumstances, the issue of defining the technical solution is one that is determined by a technician. That is how it should be and so it is in Guyana”.
Further he added, “The government’s policy as is adumbrated to the Finance Minister, on Cabinet’s behalf, is that we want a robust effective accounting system that is our policy. That is conveyed and transmitted to our staffs that then go away, improvise and implement the best technical solution.”
The Finance Minister explained that the IFMAS has seven modules; the Appropriation, Expenditure, General Ledger, Budget Preparation & Reporting System (BPRS), along with the still to be implemented Purchasing and Asset and Inventory Modules.
It was explained that until 2003, cumbersome “Votes Ledgers” were used with each ministry using manual systems that were tedious and time consuming to handle their accounts and financial operations.
The new electronic system, sourced from a Canadian based software company, Free Balance has since enabled ministries to have their accounts centralised with expenditures and transactions submitted in real time
Modules implemented were done based in the order of importance for the ministry, with high quality internal controls, integrated authorization sets, tracking for funds approved etc being deemed most important, the minister explained.