By Francis Kagolo
THE Government has decentralised the public service payroll in a bid to weed out ghost workers and delayed release of salaries for civil servants.
The secretary to the treasury and permanent secretary ministry of finance, Keith Muhakanizi, said the new system will start with the January salaries expected in three weeks’ time.
Under the new arrangement, the ministry of finance will release workers’ salaries through their individual ministries and local governments, instead of the ministry of public service as has always been the order.
Muhakanizi is optimistic that besides expediting salary payments the new system will avert corruption since each accounting officer will be personally accountable for salaries under their departments.
“Currently all payroll is centralised under the ministry of public service. When there is a problem with one vote, the whole civil service is not paid. This will stop with the decentralisation,” he said.
“Now the different accounting officers will be the ones to give instructions to the ministry of finance and we will release the money directly to them and send a copy of details of the released funds to the ministry of public service.”
Muhakanizi made the revelations while briefing the media about the sh2.3trillion funds released to the various ministries and departments for this third quarter of the financial years which runs from January to March.
Other civil service financial management reforms expected this year include Treasury Single Account (TSA), a unified structure of government bank accounts that will allow greater cash management.
A TSA provides accurate and timely information on bank account balances, revenue and cash positions of the government including its line agencies. It also facilitates better fiscal, debt management and monetary policy coordination.
It ensures systematic recording and reporting of all liabilities of government entities including real and contingent liabilities to enable the national government to manage its financial exposure.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says a TSA is an essential tool for consolidating and managing governments’ cash resources, thus minimizing borrowing costs.
In countries with fragmented government banking arrangements like Uganda, the IMF says “establishment of a TSA should receive priority in the public financial management reform agenda”.
“Under the TSA system, accounting officers will no longer be able idler resources in the various bank accounts. Keeping idle funds and thus low absorption of funds has negative effects on the growth of the economy,” Muhakanizi explained.
The reforms have been prompted by the rampant corruption, delayed release of civil servants’ salaries and high number of ghost workers on the payroll experienced in the recent past.
In the financial year 2011/12, the Auditor General carried out a forensic audit on the government payroll and identified a total of 6,554 invalid payroll records and names especially under police department, primary and secondary education.
In July last year Police decided to give food rations to its officers following delayed payments of salaries, while Prisons officers hoped for a similar arrangement, but in vain.
New Vision investigations then revealed that many Prisons officers resorted to extorting money from relatives of inmates and doing other jobs outside prisons to cope up with delayed salaries.
“We have received complaints concerning prisons officers soliciting for bribes to secure bail for prisoners. Four suspects [prison officers] were netted and dismissed from the service,” the deputy Commissioner General of Prisons, James Mwanje, disclosed then.