Business News of Tuesday, 9 December 2014
Source: Graphic Online
The establishment of an electronic Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) is being touted as a sure way to control ghost names on the country’s public sector payroll.
This has become imperative because the Controller and Accountant General has for long acted as government’s accountant and human resource manager, which had not helped in keeping unscrupulous names off public sector payroll.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, said the public sector had lost that clear distinction, which the government was trying to restore through the HRMS, a module under the Ghana Integrated Financial management Information System (GIFMIS).
A partial application of the HRMS at the Public Services Commission currently enables the Service to issue electronic pay slips to workers under it.
Immediately after the implementation of the single spine salary structure in 2010, public sector compensation was said to consume about 70 per cent of domestic revenues. The figure estimated at GH¢9.3 billion in 2014 is eight per cent of total value of domestic production (Gross Domestic Product), but constitutes about 40 per cent when expressed in terms of domestic revenues.
Mr Terkper said on December 2 at Post Budget Forum organised by accounting and assurance firm, pwc, that the system would also be extended to the Head of Civil Service and other public sector human administration services to enable it cut waste and check ghost names on government payroll.
“The ghosts are not in the Controller’s office, but in the primary schools and secondary schools, hospitals and our offices. So this HRM system should complement GIFMIS to check waste in the system,” Mr Terkper said.
The issue of ghost names has been haunting the economy for a long time, with the government initiating a biometric registration for all public sector workers in 2010, as a way to save about GH¢600 million annually.
While the results of the process have not been made known, the finance minister thinks the HRMIS comes in handy in curbing the ghost names menace, since an independent HR system to complement the work of the accountant general had been the missing link needed to be fixed immediately.
The Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, on December 4 inaugurated a four-member ministerial committee to oversee the management of payroll.
A better payroll management, as part of reducing waste in the public sector, is one of the requirements the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is asking the government to meet before giving it a bailout.
Mr Terkper is the Chairman of the committee, which also has the Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang; the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and the Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Mr Julius Debrah, as members
Mr Amissah-Arthur explained that the committee had the responsibility of strengthening the system and preventing the recurrence of malpractices.
The pwc forum, which is organised twice a year to make inputs into and review the Budget and Economic policy of the government after its presentation, is fast becoming a platform for the business community to critically examine the economic policy framework of the government for the ensuing year to help them plan.
This year’s budget aims at transformation, according to the finance minister, but at the same time has a lower growth target of 3.9 per cent, the lowest in more than a decade.
The Senior Country Partner of pwc, Mr Felix Addo, who presented the budget highlights to the private sector audience, said if the aim of the government was to create jobs and improve livelihoods, contracting the growth outlook for the economy was not the way to go.
He added that while inflation was currently at 16.9 per cent, the year-end target was 16.5 per cent, with a medium term target of 8±2 per cent and a debt profile equivalent to 60.8 per cent of all goods and services produced within the economy, which he questioned the country’s ability to service.
But Mr Terkper said debt servicing and its restructuring were all part of the home-grown policies, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was looking at in its new programme for the country.
He said part of bonds issued locally by the government would be used to restructure the Treasury bill tenor, moving it from short to the long dated.
The finance minister added that the government had been trying since last year to close the deficit gap, following wrong estimation of oil production targets, which affected revenues, the implementation of the public sector pay policy and the refusal of development partners to release budget support funds.
On growth, Mr Terkper said it should be viewed in the perspective that the country was a low tax country, where tax contributed low numbers to the GDP and the efforts had been geared towards expenditure rationalisation and realignment of the subsidies and exemptions regime to correct shortfalls.
He said his biggest regret was his inability to end fiscal stabilisation levy on some sectors of the economy, but gave an assurance that his aim was to work towards its removal by establishing concrete fiscal tools that could be permanently relied upon to finance expenditure when there were shortfalls.
Among other things, the 2015 Budget, which aims to transform the economy, established the EXIM Bank to finance companies with exportable products, increased the withholding tax on director’s fees from 10 per cent to 20 per cent and made tax identification numbers (TIN) a mandatory requirement for clearing goods from the ports.