System for better delivery

2008-08-19 00:00

A critical new system aimed at greatly improving financial management in KZN government departments — where under- and over-spending have become common in recent years — was officially launched by the provincial treasury in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

A first for the South African government sector, the performance budgeting system has already been rolled out at the departments of Transport, Treasury, Health, Arts, Culture and Tourism, Economic Development, the Office of the Premier, and the provincial legislature.

The company behind the system is Performance Budgeting Systems (PBS).

The overall cost for training, software and professional expertise is R100 million.

PBS managing director Tania Ajam said there are delays and much red tape entailed in reporting on spending within departments.

She said the new system will give managers and supervisors early and daily access to such information.

“Managers can monitor the progress of a project at various stages. A report that would have taken someone three or four days to complete will take our system 10 minutes.

“If you see that you are over- or under-spending, you can put early interventions in place to deal with this,” said Ajam.

Economist and PBS director Dr Iraj Abedian told The Witness that the system helps in managing both financial and non-financial deliverables.

“To understand public finance, one must understand that money and [service] delivery are two sides of the same coin.

“From a management point of view, over- or under-spending means nothing unless you can pinpoint where this took place. Is the overspending, for example, as a result of the rising costs of inputs or is it due to financial mismanagement?”

The system gives regular reports and allows managers to look at all aspects of performance, including cost and timeliness.

Finance MEC Dr Zweli Mkhize said the system allows government employees to address the poor planning and a lack of monitoring that usually result in over- and under-spending.

“This is another step toward creating a modern and efficient government machinery.”

The system creates a link between budgets, the resource input by these budget allocations (personnel, equipment, vehicles etc.) and the public goods and services which are delivered to communities.

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