Payroll clean-up plan underway

Business News of Thursday, 12 March 2015

Source: B&FT

John Mahama Blue Neat

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Payroll has released the payroll clean-up plan aimed at instituting and ensuring integrity in the government payroll data.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the plan will complement the payroll and human resource measures already being implemented as part of the Personal Financial Management (PFM) reforms — of which GIFMIS is part — to contain the compensation bill and ultimately facilitate achievement of the fiscal consolidation targets of the 2015 Budget.

It is on record that the country’s payroll is infested with “ghost-names”, and this has been cited among reasons for this initiative as the rising cost of the wage bill continues to pose risks to the annual budget and also threatens macroeconomic stability.

The Ministry of Finance as part of its oversight role under the GIFMIS will oversee the plan’s implementation and ensure the committee publishes quarterly reports on the implementation process.

Part of the cleaning process is introduction of a payroll database and payroll data which seek to provide data on the payroll to all Unit Heads for verification on the first day of each month.

According to a report by the Ministry, “with effect from September 2014 (recent data submitted is January 2015) monthly Management Unit data for MDAs has been provided to sector Ministers”.

Also among the measures is the use of verified data to update the payroll records. The report states that so far “E-SPV system has been deployed to 4 regions — namely Greater Accra, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Northern Regions.

“As part of the e-SPV validation and certification of monthly payroll data, all Heads of management Units in Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Brong Ahafo Regions now certify online the staff to be paid for their management units for a particular month,” the report states.

However, nationwide rollout is expected to be completed by June, 2015.

Further among the plans is the suspension, validation and possible restoration of employees with “zero” bank accounts.

The paramount reason behind this exercise is to flush out all “ghost-names” from the payroll system. The report shows that about 47,186 employees with zero bank accounts were suspended in September and October 2014.

And as at the end of February 2015, 44,496 names had been validated by the Audit Service and recommended to be restored for payment.

“This leaves 2,690 yet to be validated by the Audit Service onto the payroll. Of the number validated 44,496 had been restored onto the payroll by the end of January 2015,” states the report.

The process is expected to be completed by the Audit Service by the end of February 2015. “Names of employees not restored as per the Auditor General’s report on the validation will be handed over to BNI for investigation and appropriate sanctions to be applied,” added the report.

To recover payment made to ineligible potential ghost employees, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO)/Attorney General Department has been tasked to investigate and recover illegal payments.

“Recovery of salaries made through the banks are paid into salary suspense bank accounts at Commercial and Rural Banks and transferred to salary suspense bank accounts with the BoG.

“Lists of employees without SSNIT numbers will also be compiled and reconciled with SSNIT data. The Ministry has therefore issued a press release directing staff without SSF numbers to take necessary steps to do so latest by the end of March 2015,” the report states.

Caution is also given to employees who have not updated data to do so before the end of March, or face permanent suspension on the April 2015 payroll and be handed over to the investigative bodies.

Another measure that cannot be overlooked is the payment of salaries on the E-Switch cards of employees. “Data of 78,572 government employees in the Greater Accra Region have been analysed on the E-Switch, and 77,974 employees in Greater Accra Region are identified as not on E-Switch,” added the report.

All employees on the mechanised payroll will therefore be registered on the E-Switch by June 2015. “Full biometric verification of employees on the mechanised payroll is to be completed in March, 2015,” the report states.