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Debt To Contractors Unknown Terkper
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The outgoing National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration says it cannot disclose the exact amount of money it owes road contractors in the country since many of them continue to present their contract certificates to the Ministry of Roads and Highways.

Seth Terkper, Finance Minister, who briefed the media in Accra on Tuesday on the state of the country’s economy, disclosed that “the problem we have had in the past is that we did not know the value of contracts that were awarded at any point in time. And therefore when you ask me how much do we owe contractors, I can bet you that as we speak now, contractors are bringing in certificates for portions of work which they have completed.”

According to him, government was taking a value-chain approach to contracts.

“And let me explain. If you award a road today, if you award a major highway today, in all probability, it will never be completed in a fiscal year. As we speak, they are at the Ministry of Roads and Highways. They are bringing certificates of completed jobs. We can have a break for a day and assess… I do not have that figure.”

Contracts database

Mr Terkper stated that many of the jobs that were completed this year and 2015 were actually tagline – school buildings.

“If you don’t have the database, because you don’t know the value of the contracts in the system, and how much have been completed and how much is left, the chances are that you will presume that the Ministry of Finance will provide the money, and therefore the sector ministry awards new contracts.

“So what we have done is to establish the contracts database, and it’s going to be added to the GIFMIX database. Then it gives you a picture in the medium term expenditure framework of the exact amount that you are contending with.”

Other unknown debts

The Finance Minister averred: “It’s the same story with payroll. If you ask me how much do I owe nurses, I must be frank. It will be very difficult to give you a precise figure. Why because, as we speak, GES and in the case of doctors, health service is processing their personnel data. And if you don’t have an HR system that tells you the number of teachers that have been posted, an audit shows that it took between 12 to 18 months for the Ministry of Finance and the Controller to receive this information. And then at that point it becomes a matter of financial clearance.  And everybody talks about financial clearance, and the first clearance is the personnel clearance.

System breakdown

“But the HR system broke down, and we were all focusing on the end. And so what we are doing now is to work with the Public Services Commission and the Services to establish an electronic HR system for the public service, or at least the Public Service, which is on the payroll.”

Electronic pay slips

Mr Terkper said government had introduced an initiative known as E4 through which the manual issue of pay slips would be outdone.

“It’s been two years since we issued the last pay slip. You can check it on your mobile phone. You can check it on your computer.  The goal for the E4 is when you enter the service and you apply, it must be electronic. For you to apply for leave, it must be electronic. For you to apply for transfer, work must be electronic.  And there are 55 forms that are going to be reduced to 11.”

Good legacy

In spite of the aforementioned flaws, Mr Terkper revealed that the Mahama-led administration was leaving behind a well-stabilized economy with bright prospects.

He said government statistics showed that the Ministry’s fiscal consolidation programme had resulted in the significant reduction in inflation, a somewhat stabilized local currency and a budget deficit that whittled from 12 percent to 6.3 percent in 2015.

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