Consolidated public sector accounting system is a growth input

10Jan 2020
The Guardian
Consolidated public sector accounting system is a growth input

TREASURY officials were all smiles at the beginning of the week as the minister Dr Phillip Mpango launched a new electronic fiscal administration format, the Government Accounting Consolidation System (GACS).

Dr Mpango said it would strengthen transparency and accountability in the public sector as well as cut down time and costs for preparing financial reports. Is it just time or something substantial could actually change in financial administration, too?

What was equally interesting from a professional point of view was that this effort was generated and implemented locally, such that the minister says Tanzania has become the first country in Africa to have the standard financial system prepared by local experts. One effect that the minister broaches was that the consolidation of government accounting will boost revenue collection. There was no reference to closing expenditure gaps in implementing projects countrywide, where numerous projects remain undone as the fiscal year ends.

Some pundits would assert that the consolidation is a plus for the work of theTreasury in supervising government accounting and reporting at all levels, as well other spheres of public sector concern. That also implies placing revenue and expenditure (payment of salaries, clients, debts, etc) on a better footing, by reducing bureaucracy owing to limited access to information at upper levels, or among other spheres of government. Consolidation beefs up accountability.

To take a deeper note of the problem the Treasury is addressing, remarks that the minister made when opening a three-day meeting of accountants from ministries and various public organizations were revealing. He expressed worries not just about financial management at individual entity and whole-of-government before the consolidation move, but something more mundane.

His worries centred on ethics among public sector accountants, and how this affects the capacity of the government and public organizations to meets financial management responsibilities. Even  with the consolidated system there was still need to ask for accountants’ effort to ensure that the system is protected and maintained for the country’s benefit. Not for individual benefit.

The minister said that the fifth phase government’s zeal is to see people’s lives are being improved, and this is why it is working tirelessly to ensure that resources and public funds are protected. Without question there are others pushing in the opposite direction, and while they will remember that the minister directed the permanent secretary to supervise accountants’ ethics and make sure that those found violating rules and principles are punished accordingly, some will just smile. Others will shrug off this appeal, in defiance.

Dr Mpango was emphatic that the Treasury was facing a lot of challenges with ethics and integrity among accountants in the country, many reportedly getting involved in corrupt practices. He demanded that this be stopped, urging accounting experts to live up to their professional oaths and observe ethical rules when conducting their duties. That significantly requires that they unearth mismanagement of public finances, while some wish to actually do the same, despite having taken an oath to the contrary, and knowing the law, etc.

Clearly it cannot be expected that all accountants will heed that appeal and take seriously their key role in the fight against corruption and embezzlement. Many will still try to do the opposite, and that is why the new system is vital, to hinder ill advised acts as greater consolidation means shorter time, opportunity to enter false data.

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