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‘Fragmented system of handling gov’t receipts hampers preparation of public accounts’

-says Finance Minister

August 6, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marah has opined that the current fragmented system of handling government receipts and payments greatly hampers the preparation of comprehensive public accounts.

In a bid to strengthen public financial management by way of consolidating government’s receipts and payments through the banking system, the Finance Ministry is on the final leg of implementing a Treasury Single Account (TSA) which is expected to be up and running in the next 6-8 weeks.

Dr. Kaifala Marah told Concord Times that the current system lacks a unified framework and a centralized control over government’s cash resources, a problem which he said the Treasury Single Account will address.

“The TSA has a myriad of benefits, including complete and timely information on government cash resources, improves appropriation and operational controls during budget execution, enables efficient cash management,” he stated.

He added that when fully operational, the system would also reduce bank fees and transaction costs, facilitate efficient payment mechanism, improve bank reconciliation and quality of fiscal data and lower liquidity reserve needs.

A Treasury Single Account is a structure that links all government bank accounts held in several commercial banks, thus enabling a consolidation and optimum utilisation of government cash resources as well as separate transaction-level control from overall cash management.

The process has already commenced as an inventory of all government bank accounts held in various commercial banks, classified according to their controlling entities, has been conducted. A database has also been set up to maintain records of all bank accounts authorised for opening by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and signatories to those accounts, with political support sought from the Presidency.

At the operational level, commercial banks have been directed by the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone to submit on a daily basis balances on bank accounts so far classified as government accounts, for inclusion in the TSA until technology and other legal issues are dealt with.