The Accountant General (AG) has started training about 300 civil servants ahead of the roll-out of the new Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) in the 2020/21 financial year.
The trained personnel comprise accountants, procurement officers, human resources officers and heads of departments drawn from government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) across the country.
Ifmis project manager Frank Mangwaya said yesterday the new system will bring a number of changes in the manner government financial transactions will be done; hence, the need for officers to be prepared on critical changes.
He said the new Ifmis has tight security features expected to prevent a recurrence of Cashgate, the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill, which cost the public purse about K266 billion between 2009 and December 2014 through theft and lack of reconciliation.
Said Mangwaya: “This is a new system that is going to have a lot of changes. And when change comes, some people will try to resist. This is the reason we thought of preparing our personnel for these changes.”
Previously, government was using the old Ifmis which some analysts, including donors, in the wake of revelations of Cashgate, faulted for having glaring loopholes that led to abuse.
In the 2018/19 fiscal year, government allocated K5 billion for the procurement of the new Ifmis whose software is touted to enhance speed and security in processing government financial transactions as well as expenditure tracking and bank reconciliations.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interrogated AG officials on the rationale of procuring the new Ifmis software when there was already one in place.
But commenting on the mode of operation for the news Ifmis, Mangwaya said that unlike the old system, the Ifmis will be operated with bi-logs and finger prints; hence, enhancing security. He observed that passwords are easily shared whereas the new access features cannot be shared.
The 2015 National Audit Office report revealed that most of the financial transactions carried out with the previous Ifmis were not supported by any bidding or purchasing documents. But Mangwaya said this would be an issue of the past because for any transaction to pass in the system there must be documents to be uploaded first.
University of Malawi economics professor Ben Kaluwa expressed scepticism that the new software will be efficient enough to prevent plunder of resources.
Two weeks ago, International Monetary Fund (IMF) resident representative Farai Gwenhamo, during the Annual Lake Conference organised by Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama), said Maawi was yet to reclaim the trust of donors six years after revelations of Cashgate exposed in October 2013.