Gov­ern­ment to speed up pay­ment to ser­vice providers

Lesotho Times - - News - Retha­bile Pitso

FI­nAnCE min­is­ter Leketekete Ketso yes­ter­day un­veiled a pay­ment plan aimed at en­sur­ing gov­ern­ment pays ser­vice-providers within 20 days of pre­sent­ing their in­voices.

Dr Ketso re­vealed the strat­egy at a work­shop his min­istry held in Maseru in con­junc­tion with the Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho ( CBL) and rel­e­vant business com­mu­ni­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­is­ter, the 20-day limit seeks to en­sure those who do business with gov­ern­ment do not go bank­rupt due to de­layed pay­ments.

“We all know that the pub­lic sec­tor can­not achieve its ob­jec­tives of pro­mot­ing eco­nomic growth, and in­creas­ing the qual­ity of health and ed­u­ca­tion, to men­tion but a few, with­out the crit­i­cal support of the pri­vate sec­tor.

“It is there­fore, un­for­tu­nate that most of the time, they have to go for months with­out their monies be­ing pro­cessed by the gov­ern­ment.

“It is my con­vic­tion that if they were timeously paid, they would plough back into the econ­omy and cre­ate more em­ploy­ment, thereby al­le­vi­at­ing the suf­fer­ing of our peo­ple,” Dr Ketso said.

Dr Ketso added he had since re­alised the late pay­ment was due to both tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenges and un­com­mit­ted staff.

“I tried to see where the prob­lem was, and in one in­stance, I was told that the In­te­grated Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment Sys­tems (IFMIS) sys­tem was down, while in another in­stance, the prob­lem was due to con­men who had ten­dered for a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice with­out fol­low­ing proper pro­cure­ment reg­u­la­tions.

“Last week, I had an op­por­tu­nity to trace two bids of M3.5 mil­lion and M7 mil­lion and both had been awarded but with­out log­i­cal rea­sons for a waiver in place.

“Re­gard­less of the ab­sence of qual­i­fied rea­sons that would jus­tify the emer­gency pe­riod they had sup­plied un­der, they were still push­ing for the trans­ac­tion to go through. How­ever, I did not want to be in­volved in the is­sue and told them that I did not want to go to jail on their be­half.”

on his part, the Ac­coun­tant gen­eral, Sam­son Rankoe Mphaka, told the work­shop that there was need for min­istries to hold work­shops for those in charge of pro­cure­men­tre­lated is­sues such as prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries, who are mostly em­ployed due to po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion and not ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“Some­times, peo­ple who oc­cupy th­ese po­si­tions do not pos­sess enough knowl­edge re­gard­ing the laws of en­force­ment, which is why some ten­ders end up be­ing re­called at the high­est level.

“It is also un­for­tu­nate to note that there is another set of peo­ple within ei­ther trea­sury or line min­istries, who de­lay pro­cesses de­lib­er­ately,” he said.

Mean­while, CBL rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Fusi Morokole said the bank had al­ready em­barked on a re­form pro­gramme called MIACH, which would see cheques be­ing pro­cessed in a sin­gle day.

“With MIACH, the sys­tem of cheque-clear­ance and set­tle­ment be­tween banks is based on a cap­tured im­age and Mag­netic Link Character Recog­ni­tion (MICR) code line data of the cheque with­out the ex­change of the phys­i­cal in­stru­ments,” he said.

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