Annual Finance & Budget Conference outcomes strengthen FSM peace, unity, & liberty
- Category: News
- Published: Friday, 17 May 2019 05:12
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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FSM Information Services
PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From March 11th to March 14th, 2019, the 5th annual Department of Finance & Administration (DOFA) Finance & Budget Conference was held in the College of Micronesia China Friendship Gymnasium. Attended by over 200 representatives from across the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), including relevant staff in charge of finance and personnel from each of the four states (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae), the conference signaled another milestone in FSM’s development and sovereignty.
“It’s been noted by leadership,” said the Honorable Sihna M. Lawrence, Secretary DOFA, “That there has been an increased effort at both the National and State level…[to reduce] our outstanding questioned costs, and in the last two audit rounds there were zero new questioned costs.” Secretary Lawrence emphasized that the National and State Finance departments, being responsible for the Nation’s and States’ “purse”, should demonstrate transparency, responsibility, and accountability at all times when conducting their work—and congratulated the attendees for demonstrating these qualities, particularly in recent years.
One of the highlights of the Finance & Budget Conference was the discussion on the new Finance Management Information System (FMIS), which the FSM National Government hopes to have completed and in active use throughout the Nation beginning Fiscal Year 2020 i.e. by October 1, 2019. Financed by the World Bank, Secretary Lawrence said the Public Financial Management Project will also provide “much needed capacity-building of our finance staff across our five Governments.”
Beulah Daunakamakama, Program Manager at DOFA’s Central Implementation Unit, described the FMIS as “a new comprehensive accounting system for the FSM National and State Governments, including hardware, software, training, and capacity-building…. There will be standardized internal controls, which will help strengthen the way things work.”
“Right now we’re maintaining manual files alongside the current system which don’t give real-time data and ultimately delays end-of-the-year reporting…. By freeing up accounting staff from data entry, they can focus more of their time and energy on what they were trained to do, more analysis and management,” said Program Manager Daunakamakama.
Another highlight of the Finance & Budget Conference was discussion on the updated Financial Management Regulations which came into effect on March 7th, 2019, approximately twenty years after the last major overhaul. “They cover everything,” said Rob Solomon, DOFA’s Macroeconomist. “The regulations have been expanded to make them more comprehensive and aligned with current international best practice.”
“Since the first Finance & Budget Conference held in Pohnpei in 2015,” said Secretary Lawrence, “one notable improvement was the first conference for local governments, held in Chuuk [in February 2019]. The mayors were eager for more such training initiatives to continue in the future.” All levels of local government, including local municipal government leadership, were present at the 5th annual Finance & Budget Conference as well.
The FSM National Government is committed to transparency and dedicated to providing essential services to the citizens of the Nation. Citizens interested in learning more about how DOFA serves the public may wish to visit their website, found here: https://dofa.gov.fm/and citizens wishing to read the Financial Management Regulations may find them here: http://www.dofa.gov.fm/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Signed-FMR-Feb-2019.pdf