The Deputy Accountant-General 1, Kebe Kouroma has disclosed that out of the three hundred and nineteen (319) Civil Servants at the Accountant-General’s Department only eight (8) are professionals; and amongst these professionals, five (5) are on contract.
He was speaking recently at the British Council Auditorium at the Management Express Forum; sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank in collaboration with the British Council, on the topic “the challenges of transforming a Central Government Department- the Accountant General’s Department” (A case study).
The five (5) Accountants on contract are been supported by the European Union. He stressed that capacity building was necessary to enhance the work in the department and as such, during the last 2-3 years, a total of about eighty-four (84) personnel have so far been trained, producing one ACCA and five M.A holders.
He disclosed that when he visited Uganda last year he found out that they have over one hundred (100) Chartered Accountants in the Civil Service, and that the Senior Accountant in the Prisons Department in Uganda holds an ACCA certificate. He warned that “the eight (8) Accountants we have here is not enough”
The Deputy Accountant-General affirmed that when he took over and wanted to transform the Department, he thought of having a level playing field where parameters were defined as text book management concepts of vision statement, mission, values and objectives; “these should be made bound and are principles that apply not only in the Accountant General’s Department but to anywhere, he said.”
He explained that the mission at the Accountant-General’s Department is to remove public money stated in the consolidated revenue fund and provide the secured custody of it and make it fall in the hands of Government in accordance with the law. “Probably the Management can control public sector finance as well as keeping and publishing financial statements as prescribed by law,” he said.
With regard to the mission statement and objectives, he disclosed that Management hopes to secure an account for public money; even though the Department does not collect money as it is the responsibility of the National Revenue Authority. When that is done, the monies are kept in the consolidated fund which is disbursed according to their policy. He stated further that for the first time, salary expenditure is within the budget.
In terms of capacity building, he said the department is being right sized and because of the ageing civil servants it was appalling to have less professionals in the Civil Service especially in the Accountant General’s Department; “what happens if those contracts come to an end,” he feared.
Explaining the difficulties they faced when computer system was introduced to the Ministry of Finance, the Deputy Accountant-General noted that they had to overhaul the whole transaction process to ensure proper monitoring. He said they want to move on from Financial Accounts to Management Information but stressed that they would not move in isolation as the pay roll is linked to the Establishment Secretary’s Office, who happens to be the Personnel Manager of Government. “No matter how best we improve our system, if things are not improved in the Establishment Secretary’s Office, we are wasting our time,” he said.
By Ishmael Bayoh