Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) has warned controlling officers in government to abide by the public finance management stipulations that require that they submit monthly expenditure and revenue returns to avoid disruptions of operations.
Treasury has issued a directive calling for the enforcement of Section 84 (3) of the Public Finance Management Act of 2003 which requires controlling officers to submit these reports within 14 days from the end of the month or risk not being funded.
Treasury has admitted that until now, it was honouring funding requests to ministries and departments when they had not remitted reports outlining how money was spent the previous month, bank reconciliations, how much money was collected and how many people remained on the payroll.
But now the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has warned that failure to submit would result in delays in dispensing funding to the ministries, departments and sub-vented agencies.
While welcoming the directive, CSTU president Servace Sakala said it would be up to controlling officers to play their rightful role that there is no disruptions in service delivery.
There are also fears that there will be delays in payment of salaries if controlling officers fail to submit payroll reports and other necessary documentation before the 14th of every month to facilitate funding.
“It is our appeal as a union to controlling officers to make sure they abide by the regulations so that no unnecessary disruptions are experienced. We don’t want to experience salary delays just because someone did not do his or her job. Salaries are already insufficient,” Sakala said.
He added that considering that funding was a critical factor in the civil service it was the union’s hope that the enforcement of these controls will help to improve productivity and efficient delivery of services.
Sakala said they would dispel any accusations of non-performance from the public if controlling officers fail to adhere to the requirements as outlined by the Secretary to the Treasury.
“As civil servants, we would want to be given a conducive environment where we work freely and implement government policies other than being accused of non-performance when in fact we don’t have the tools to work,” Sakala said.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said controlling officers have rarely been submitting reports to Treasury due to laxity in enforcement of the Public Finance Management Act.
“It [submitting reports] was not happening because of laxity, but now we want to enforce it. We hope this will not result in a break in service delivery or delays in salary payments. But not enforcing this is no longer an option,” he said.
Forensic auditors Baker Tilly and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), in their Cashgate investigative reports done at different times, cited lack of submission of monthly returns and bank reconciliation as one of the major reasons Cashgate went undetected for months as civil servants connived with public sector companies to defraud government of hundreds of billions.
Some controlling officers have testified before court that they did not detect that money belonging to their ministries was being tapped into through Account Number One because there was no enforcement to daily bank reconciliations at the time. n