Mphaka lauds 20-day govt payment plan
ACCOUNTANT General Sam Mphaka has expressed satisfaction with the swift payment of invoices within government departments, after the agreement to complete the process within 20 days.
Last month Finance Minister, Leketekete Ketso, unveiled a payment plan aimed at ensuring the government pays service-providers within 20 days of presenting their invoices, with treasury mandated to ensure a maximum of three days for invoice payment.
Under the new payment plan, an invoice is supposed to take eight days in a line ministry where it is inspected by the procurement office and then goes to the chief accountant’s office. It is then supposed to spend not more than six days at the treasury and sub accountancy departments. Thereafter, it goes to the service provider’s bank for three days from where it is sent to the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) in the final three days.
The ambitious process was designed to better the private sector payment plan which takes up to 30 days.
Mr Mphaka attributed the success of the system to the treasury department’s deployment of staff whose sole occupation is examining payments.
“I have made it a priority to remind my staff to adhere to the three-day rule and have, so far, seen progress,” Mr Mphaka said.
“We used to have piles of papers waiting to be checked to be sent to relevant line ministries in the past, but lately I have observed that those piles have been significantly reduced.
“This is due to the increase of staff tasked exclusively for that function.”
Mr Mphaka said the department had added 18 more people to the 20 the department already dealing with payments. He said six are permanently stationed in the payments department, while the other 12 are on a rotational basis and periodically assigned to other tasks within the department.
CBL Head of Banking Operations, Fusi Morokole, also lauded the payment plan, however, noting that they still encountered challenges in delivering the money on time due to erroneous bank details on invoices.
He said such challenges were encountered especially when service providers submit details of an account that has been closed by the respective bank due to lack of regular deposits needed to sustain the account.
However, Lesotho National Farmers Union General Secretary for Maseru District, Lephotho Taoana, said the payment plan still left a left to be desired, adding that “nothing had really changed in the system”.
Other businesses that transact with the government have also been claiming that they are not receiving any payments long after the 20-day deadline.