-- Says six institutions go paperless
The Government through the Public Financial Management Reforms Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has launched its Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) platform to improve efficiency and transparency in the acquisition of goods, services and works.
The EDMS platform was launched on Thursday, July 30, 2020, under the theme: "Public Financial Management Reforms (PFMR) for Institutional Strengthening project," in keeping with the Government's commitment to strengthening and promoting its financial management system in the country.
The system will ensure that all government payroll and voucher processing at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning will now be done online through a digital system called the Electronic Data Management System (EDMS) instead of the Manual (Through paper) that has been used in the past.
The launch of the EDMS also indicates that no more will anyone carry Payroll or Voucher to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for processing, rather, they will simply stay right within their offices and wire their payrolls or Vouchers to the relevant authorities at MFDP for processing.
Supported by the International Development Association, the EDMS was developed by one of Liberia's best technology company, MWETANA Consulting and Technology Group. It will be implemented within six of the largest government ministries and agencies, namely: Health, Education, Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Finance and Development Planning, and the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, to improve record management and storage.
In 2016, the Integrated Public Financial Management Reform Project (IPFMRP) hired the services of the local consulting firm, MWETANA Consulting and Technology Group, to develop and install the EDMS in six of the largest government ministries and agencies, namely: Health, Education, Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Finance and Development Planning, and the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, to improve record management and storage.
Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., who spoke at the ceremony in Monrovia yesterday, said the modernization of the PFMR is a critical step as Liberia under the able leadership of President George M. Weah continues to make new alliances and become more competitive on the world stage.
"The Government is the largest purchaser of goods and services. For there to be efficiency, quality, transparency and accountability, we felt that the PFMR should have been overhauled and that has been done," he said.
Minister Tweah added: "We are just at the beginning of this process; we are going to do more. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the World Bank for their continuous support to the government of Liberia, the Swedish Government, as well as other partners who support the PFMR."
According to him, the whole business of government delivery module is challenged and has to change and the WB is in the processing of working with the government in doing that.
He said with the launch of the EDMS in the country it is really going to change a lot of things that government goes through in seeking the wellbeing of its citizens.
Also speaking, the Controller and Accountant General (CAG) of Liberia, Janga Kowo, who will directly supervise the EDMS platform, described the launch of the EDMS is a testament of what commitment does and "We want to extend thanks and appreciation to the Minister (Samuel Tweah, Jr.,) for his visionary leadership at the MFDP."
Under Minister Tweah's leadership according to the CAG of Liberia, the fiscal and monitoring arrangement of the government has become stable and the PFM landscape in the country has improved significantly.
"We want to indicate that the electronic documents management system is actually going to revolutionize the process in the financial management system of the county.
He said: "The EDMS is the beginning of digitizing government financial management processes and this is going to lead to ensuring efficiency productivity thereby ensuring value for money the execution of government budget and ensuring that government finances are properly accounted for.
"As you may be aware over the years, there have been series of issues regarding the reports of the Auditor-General on the government financial management and the launch of the EDMS is an attempt to try to correct some of the issues associated with the execution of the government's budget by extension the public financial management process."
Kowo, who hastened to the point out that under the leadership of Minister Tweah; CAG has now become a full flesh of the department thereby enhancing its operational independence in the disbursement of public finances.
"We want to assure the stakeholders that although we are going to be piloting this project with six Ministries but the intension is actually to digitize all government financial management processes. It will enhance efficiency transparency and accountability," he stated.
The CAG also mentioned that the government is also in discussion to move to electronic transfer and is currently working with the Central Bank of Liberia to finalize the arrangement where the issue of payment to civil servants as well as vendors of the government will be done through the electronic payment thereby reducing the processing time for government transactions and also creating efficiency and transparency in financial reporting.
"We need to be on par with our neighbours in the sub-region when it comes to digital processing of transactions," he told staff at the MFDP and other participants at the occasion.
Earlier, the Information Technology Specialist at the MFDP, Jarvik S. Tarpeh, said the System was necessitated by the persistent issuance of Disclaimer Opinions on the Government's Consolidated Financial Statements owing to the lack of sufficient documentation to support the financial statements of assertions.
These Disclaimer Opinions, in effect, he said, undermine the integrity and credibility of the government's financial statements and challenge the PFM reform efforts. The adaptation of the EDMS was also geared towards transitioning from paper (mutual) to paperless (digital), thus avoiding the continuous disclaimers in GoL Audit process.
According to him, in the wisdom and vision of Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. the need arose to reenter a contractual agreement with Mwetana Consulting and Technology Group in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the system.