Inside 2022-23 budget: Government moves on Ifmis, utility meters
By Deogratias Mmana:
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Sosten Gwengwe has said the government embarked on the overhauling of the problematic Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) in the 2022-23 national budget.
The government also made some progress in the installation of pre-paid meters to government offices, especially water meters.
But the future of the public reforms agenda, in terms of governance institutions, still looks misty.
In addition, the Malawi 2063 First 10-Year Implementation Plan (MIP- 1) report for 2023 has shown that there is slow progress by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs to integrate Ifmis as a stand-alone system across councils and National Local Government Finance Committee.
But in an interview, Gwengwe said the ministry has, among other things, embarked on capacity building initiatives targeting both the system core and end users.
“A lot of training has been provided and many more [sessions] are underway as we speak. The government also posted more accountants from other MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] to the Accountant General’s department and recruitment of additional accountants is underway.
“We also seconded some staff from the Reserve Bank of Malawi to the Accountant General’s department to boost the capacity in the Ifmis Project,” he said.
Gwengwe disclosed that the ministry is rolling out more functionality of the Ifmis by April 1 2023.
“We have also just finalised the state-of-the-art Ifmis data centre within Capital Hill to host Ifmis and ensure business continuity.
“All these are measures my ministry has taken and put in place, apart from vigorously pursuing to stabilise the system even more. This is to help the government fully realise the full benefits of this government investment,” Gwengwe said.
On the austerity measure to have all government institutions connected to pre-paid meters for utilities, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi said, in 2022, it managed to migrate 83 meters for its maximum demand customers from post-paid to prepaid in all the government institutions.
“The figure reflects only existing maximum demand customer accounts that we migrated from postpaid to prepaid,” Escom spokesperson Kitty Chingota said.
On its part, the Lilongwe Water Board said it has managed to put all government structures on prepaid meters except for Area 30 Police Headquarters and C company in Lilongwe.
“LWB started the process in 2017 before the measure came,” LWB spokesperson Chisomo Chibwana said.