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South Sudan launches electronic public finance management

May 31, 2011 (JUBA) - The government of the semi autonomous region of South Sudan on Tuesday said it is adopting electronic public finance management to seal graft avenues.

Speaking to reporters at the premises of the ministry of finance and economic planning in Juba, Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, the under secretary in the ministry of finance announced the South Sudan government was launching public finance management system under a project called e-government.

Mabiordit said the government is currently taking all its top and middle level civil service leaders through electronic systems on public management. He further added that successful implementation of the project would mark part of what he called the gradual shift towards e-government and increased internet use in the delivery of public services.

The senior official said technocrats were crafting the way forward on government transformation through a connected government, noting that such a move would reduce or do away with issues such as ghost workers – who exist only on paper in order for officials to steal public funds.

He expressed hope that the government would improve its investment climate and recover lost ground in the fight against corruption by digitizing information of key sectors in the economy. The e-systems being given to government employees involve human resource and financial systems management, among others.

In 2006 South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, set up the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) and in 2009 granted the commissioner’s office the power of prosecution. However, the SSACC has not prosecuted a single official in South Sudan.

Mabiordit added that the enforcement of e-government needed skilled human capital.

“Without proper training, implementation of e-government program can hit a wall but those trained will be able to train others from district to lower levels,” he said.

Numerous challenges, rapidly changing dynamics of world operational systems, have forced many governments and countries to switch on to ICT in a quest to simply work and enhance efficiency in both public and private systems.

The ongoing construction of the National ICT broadband backbone (NICTBB) stands is put forward by officials as a practical demonstrations of the South Sudan government’s commitment to promote ICT and enforce e-government in public delivery systems.

He said recognizing the importance of training, the e-government agency and Multi Training Center (MTC) were training government executives, at all levels — from national, regional, district down to the local government levels, to use the ICT systems.

Already, about 200 public servants, particularly from national and regional levels, have been trained on e-government systems, noting that the target is to train government executives at all levels.

“The next step is to take same knowledge down to the district and local government levels,” he said.

Mabiordit said the government uses a “train the trainers approach” - training a few officials who are then able to train others in their respective offices — at central, regional, district and local government levels.

He also suggested a shift to good examples of "m-Government", where alerts can be sent through text or SMS messages on a mobile phone to notify citizens that a request for assistance has been processed, that a permit needs to be renewed or that an emergency advisory notice has been issued.

According to him, government institutions have in the past fared worse than their private counterparts in e-practices because of lack of skilled personnel and failure to consult experts.

The official made the statement following the commencement of a two-week training for 25 customs officers from across South Sudan, which is due to become independent in July.

"Considering the importance of the role of customs towards the development of the new independent country, the training aims at enhancing and fostering the capacity of customs officers in Southern Sudan through the latest customs procedures in accordance with international standards", said Mabiordit.

He explained that the course is being conducted through the collaboration of the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

"This training is part of technical support for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Government of Southern Sudan sponsored by JICA. It is a continuation of training given of the custom officers earlier this year. Twelve other customs officers had already received training in March 2011 at the KRA Training Institute in Mombasa, Kenya", he explained.

(ST)