A Ministry of Finance tender document says the “existing Treasury Instructions, the Audit and Exchequer Act and other statutes are now outdated”, hence the need for review.
Numerous reports by the Comptroller and Auditor-General have highlighted incidents of profligacy and the need to tighten monitoring mechanisms.
But the tender document says the government had decided to hire a consultant because of “a lot of changes which affected the application of the Treasury financial and legal instruments”.
“In an effort to address the changes, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has been reviewing the legal framework on a piecemeal basis through issuing of circulars and guidelines,” the tender document said.
Ministry of Finance sources this week said the tender had not yet been awarded although the bid closed in June.
Analysts have however pointed out that while the current treasury instructions needed to be repealed, the real problem was government’s failure to implement its own laws. This they said had resulted in overspending by line ministries, failure to recover monies loaned to parastatals and the ballooning of debt
A 2000 report by the Auditor-General on the management of debt said the government should not commit itself to loans whose conditions are not feasible.
“The government should not commit itself on these loans whose conditions are not feasible,” the Auditor-General said.
“The ability to fulfil the loan conditions on time should be highly considered in the negotiation of loans since some lenders’ requirements might be difficult to meet,” he said.
Former civil servant and economic consultant Samuel Undenge said if implemented well the proposed changes should help manage debt.
“It (the hiring of consultant) is a realisation by government that we cannot stick to outdated laws,” said Undenge. “If implemented well the laws might help manage the bloated debt.”
“Government has waited for things to be out of hand before taking some action. The problem might be whether the state will effect the proposed regulations with the diligence they require. Failure will result in a worse-off situation,” he said.
The envisaged legal regime should help the government to control and monitor expenditure in line ministries by minimising fraud and misappropriation of public funds. The government also hopes to put in measures to enhance efficiency of donor fund accounting and to standardise procedures and transactions across ministries.
The legislation would also enforce compliance on financial management legislation and Treasury Instructions.