Electronic technique upsets payments system

Queue foe ATM, CBD, Maseru, Lesotho

… but government allays fears of civil servants and promise it was last hitch


Following a technical hitch in the processing of civil servants’ salaries on April 25, causing about two days’ delay, the finance department has allayed public servants’ fears and promised that the process “will not recur and so the delay experienced will also not recur in future.”

According to the press statement released on Friday April 26, the department said as a way to improve payment and reporting services, the Ministry of Finance launched an upgraded financial management system as part of broader Integrated Financial Management Information System  (IFMIS) on 1st April 2019.

Once teething problems have been eliminated, it says, the new system will automate payment systems and eliminate the manual processes used since 2009. It adds that in order to verify the correct payroll, the ministry has had to input salaries data manually for this month (April 2019) and this has required considerable time.

Reads the statement: “As a result of this verification process, salaries for the most ministries have been delayed by up to 48 hours beyond the expected day of payment of 25th April 2019. With verification process now complete, payment instructions for all ministries, departments and agencies, as of today, 26th of April 2019, been sent to the Central Bank of Lesotho for processing of salaries. Some civil servants including teachers, police and defence have already been paid. The remaining recipients should have received their salaries in the next few hours and days.”

The statement added that finance had also noted with disappointment the misinformation that the government would not be able to pay salaries due to lack of funds. “This is incorrect and misleading. Our officials are working round the clock to ensure that this process is completed successfully.”

The incident that triggered fears of civil servants that the delay could have been due to government being in the red, and widely publicized as caused by lack of funds on the social media, was clarified by finance principal secretary, Motena Ts’olo on April 25 as a payment day for civil servants only meant to set a target for officers in charge of salary payments and that salaries were not paid on April 25 due to new IFMIS as all civil servants had to be included in the new system.

By the time the explanation was given, the Public Service Staff Association (LEPSSA) was already fuming complaining there was neither prior warning nor explanation given for the delay.

LEPSSA Maseru branch public relations officer, Rankalefe Seakhi had said they were disappointed and needed an explanation from the government through Minister of Public Service of what had led to the delay in the payment of the public servants.

“There could be valid explanation for the delay in paying the public servants monthly salaries, but since there has never been any prior warning we are left guessing as to what could be the reason behind the delay,” he had said.

IFMIS was introduced and promoted as part of public financial reforms in many developing countries, including Lesotho but the country has experienced teething troubles on it’s implementation resulting in delays to payment of creditors among others.

However, all civil servants got their salaries by April 26, within 48 hours of delay.

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