The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Shadrach Fanega, today congratulated the staff of the Financial Reporting Section of the Treasury Division on the completion of 2007 Annual Accounts for the Solomon Islands Government.

"The completion of the 2007 accounts and the submission to the Acting Auditor General before the end of 2008 is a significant achievement. It is the first time in well over ten years that the accounts have been completed within the timeframe set out in the Public Finance and Audit Act," Mr. Fanega said.

The timely completion of the Annual Accounts represents the culmination of a lot of work that has been done in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury over the last several years to bring the accounts up to date.

"The improvement in timeliness will now allow Parliament and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to examine up to date information rather than historical information. In the last session of Parliament the PAC considered audit reports covering a period of 9 years from 1998 up to and including 2006. The completion of the 2007 accounts now brings us up to date," Mr. Fanega explained.

While improvement in timeliness has been achieved, Mr. Fanega acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to do to continue to improve on the quality of information included in the accounts.

"The reports by the Auditor General on our previous accounts contained many qualifications and areas for improvement," Mr. Fanega said. "I expect many similar findings for the 2007 accounts. However, we are taking action to address these issues."

Mr. Fanega went on to explain that these initiatives include investing in new systems such as a new payroll application and hardware for the public service that is being undertaken with RAMSI Technical Assistance and funding, modernizing the financial management software which has not been updated since 1999, revising the Finance Instructions for implementation during 2009 and training our staff and future leaders through promotion of structured learning opportunities plus significant on-the-job training provided by advisers on a day to day basis.

Mr. Fanega revealed that another significant achievement for the Solomon Islands Government during 2008 was the completion of a Public Expenditure and Finance Accountability (PEFA) assessment. The PEFA is a multi-agency partnership program sponsored by a number of agencies including the World Bank, the IMF and the European Commission.

"The PEFA has now established for the government a number of indicators against which we will be able to measure improvements in our public financial management over time. This will assist us in negotiations with donors to identify areas in our public financial management that will benefit most from donor assistance. It will also enable us to measure over time whether actions are achieving the desired improvements," Mr. Fanega explained.

Mr. Fanega acknowledged 2008 as a year of significant achievement in public financial management and is looking forward to building on these achievements in 2009.

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