Accountant General Cryton Chimombo has said the government already bought the K5 billion the new integrated financial management and information system (Ifmis) although Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has budgeted for it in the 2018/19 fiscal plan.
Chimombo surprised the Budget and Public Accounts parliamentary cluster committee when he said that the K5 billion would be used for human resource capacity training during the transition period.
“We will use the K5 billion to buy some equipment as well as training for the users of the system,” Chimombo told journalists after meeting cluster members.
Gondwe told the 193 strong House that the K5 billion was to be used “to procure a new IFMS.”
This contradiction between Gondwe and Chimombo has generated intense debate on the issue on social media platform, Facebook.
Writing on his wall, Henry Chete sarcastically wonders why the language is changing as in the budget statement, Gondwe uses the words “to procure” when the Accountant General says it has already been procured.
Jonathan Mbuna describes the Finance minister’s lies as childish and frustrating whilst others say although President Peter Mutharika said in March the procurement of IFMS had already been finished, maybe payment had not yet been done and the K5 billion was for the actual payment.
Andrew Zumbe Kumwenda asks: “What type of training will be conducted? IFMS is an office based project. You want to go to the lake and fatten hoteliers?”
Chancy Mtambo joined the discussion and simply asked; “are you training for war?”
The new Ifmis—government’s electronic payment system— will replace the current Ifmis that is said to have numerous loopholes and led to the loss of about K24 billion in 2013 during the infamous Cashgate.
Political and social political commentator Humphrey Mvula told a breakfast radio program that the ruling DPP elite could be earmarking the K5 billion for party campaign purposes ahead of the 2019 polls.
However, the IMF observes that the implementation of IFMS vendor is a highly complex technical intervention requiring expertise beyond the current capacity with the ministry of Finance.
IMF resident representative Jack Ree warned that the migration to a new system is a serious undertaking which requires rigorous planning.
“From the macroeconomic point of view, getting the Ifmis right is a critical element of the public finance management reforms advanced under the Extended Credit Facility [ECF] programme. If we got stuck in moving the Ifmis project ahead, it would be difficult to safeguard and sustain, for example, the gains made in bank reconciliation.
“If we cannot safeguard these gains, it would be difficult for the country to switch gear to inclusive growth as investor and donor confidence may relapse,” he said.
Treasury spokesperson Davis Sado said government will employ Ifmis adviser as well as a change management adviser “in a bid to improve human capacity and we will keep on building the capacity here in the civil service which is part of the component.”
Ifmis came into the limelight in 2013, between April and September, when it was discovered that about K24 billion taxpayer’s money was stolen whereas between 2009 and 2014, about K236 billion could not be accounted for.
The old version of the software, Epicor 7.3, has been due for extensive upgrading since it was installed in 2005, but Cashgate findings by British forensic auditors, RSM (formerly Baker Tilly), established that it was grossly abused, especially by lower management accountants in the civil service some of whom are answering charges of theft in court.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :