Business News of Friday, 25 January 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Deadline for e-Ghana project extended

The deadline for the implementation of the e-Ghana project meant to assist the government to generate growth and employment by leveraging ICT and public-private partnerships to develop the IT Enabled Services industry in the country has been extended until June 30 next year.

The US$84.7 million which was awarded in August 2006 was also meant to contribute to improved efficiency and transparency of selected government functions through e-government applications.

According to a special report from the World Bank which gives updates on the progress of implementation of the bank’s sponsored projects, the implementing Agencies; Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, only US$42.4 million has so far been sourced.

The update highlights the status of World Bank supported projects. The World Bank launched a new Access to Information policy in 2010 that represented a fundamental shift in the Bank's approach to disclosure of information.

The new policy shifted to default disclosure all information (minus a list of exceptions.)

This level of enhanced transparency and accountability allows for greater monitoring of Bank-supported projects, thereby enabling better development results as well as providing an opportunity to better track the use of public funds.

Components of the project according the World Bank is in four parts: Enabling environment US$9.37 million: Support to IT Enabled Services and ICT Small and Medium Enterprises US$17.60 million: E-Government Program US$31.00 and finally the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) which will also cost US$28.44

On the overall ratings of the project, the report said the progress towards achievement of Project Development Objective (PDO) is satisfactory while the overall implementation progress (IP) is also satisfactory. However, the overall Risk Rating was termed as low.

The report revealed that the implementation support missions were carried out for the e-Ghana core activities (September 18-25, 2012) and the additional financing of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) sub-component (September 24 October 5, 2012) adding that “Progress towards achievement of the Project Development Objective (PDO) continues to be satisfactory”.

For the e-Ghana core activities, the World Bank said the combined impact of local and international investment promotion activities by the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Secretariat, as well and continued outreach by the Ghana and establishment of several International Business Processing Offshore (BPO) companies in Ghana.

“The continuous reduction in the price of wholesale bandwidth over the last five years from US $5,000 per mbps per month to US$750 per mbps per month (and continuing to fall), coupled with increased redundancy resulting from multiple submarine cables, is also making the BPO industry more competitive and attractive”, the report said.

Further, it said the reductions in bandwidth prices and the completion of the construction of the BPO Center will go a long way to making Ghana a destination of choice for both domestic and international BPO/ITES business.

The report said significant progress has also been registered on the implementation of the first e-Govt Public Private Partnership (PPP) for electronic applications for revenue agencies in Ghana despite some initial delays owing primarily to new institutional arrangements for the Revenue Agencies.

It noted that these initial delays have resulted in approximately one year delay in completion and acceptance of the e-govt PPP solution.

However, the report noted that the progress so far includes completion of the RGD applications (Registration of Businesses, Marriages, Properties and Estates) which went live in December 2011;

Deployment of the Tax payer registration module of TRIPS (Total Revenue Integrated Processing System) in the 12 most strategic offices of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA); Delivery of additional modules including Refunds, Exemptions Application Process, Case Management, Debt Management; and the Launch of e-services program, and continued testing of selected online services among other things.

The report said although implementation progress on the GIFMIS component was moderately satisfactory due to slow implementation of some elements of the Public Financial Management (PFM) related reforms against two of its core sub-components (PFM Business Processes and Control Systems as well as Project /Change Management), measurable progress has been achieved in the delivery of the systems for budget execution across Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in Accra.

All MDAs in Accra have commenced the implementation of a systems-based General Ledger and 'procure to pay' in transacting government expenditures under the Consolidated Fund.

In addition, design of systems interfaces between the GIFMIS Cash Management Module and the Bank of Ghana using SWIFT and automated bank reconciliation is still in progress, while transition planning for the use of a Treasury Single Account for all public funds, apart from only the consolidated fund, remains part of the agenda for reform during the life of the project.

Audit of the Payroll system has been completed and the outcome of that will feed into the final design and implementation of a payroll upgrade that caters to the control weaknesses currently inherent in Integrated Personnel Payroll Database 2.

Meanwhile, the report said the selection of consultants for the construction of the BPO Center is expected to be completed by December 31, 2012.

A renewed push by the project team towards completing the roll-out of the GIFMIS to the 10 regions for Ministries, Departments and Agencies non-devolved expenditure is paving the way for the government to better report on and manage its consolidated fund finances.