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Govt Talks Tough in a Bid to Save Money

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Limiting expenses on overseas travel, entertaining foreign guests, and civil servant numbers will be among government measures to save state resources and relieve financial tensions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mr. Somdy Duangdy yesterday outlined the plan at the ongoing ordinary session of the National Assembly (NA) in response to a query by the NA Secretariat.

“We will reconsider what amount of money will be allocated appropriately for overseas trips by officials,” Mr. Somdy said, giving this as an example of a savings measure.

A suggestion was raised concerning the appointment of the head of a ministry or province to lead a committee implementing the savings policy, with results to be reported regularly to higher authorities.

During the debate on the National Socio-Economic Development Plan, NA members questioned the large number of civil servants, pointing to the Ministry of Home Affairs as an example, which they said was overburdened with salary payments.

Mr. Somdy said the government would scrutinise the number of civil servants and jobs at that and other ministries, aiming to streamline government bodies and save resources.

The Deputy PM made mention of the Ministry of Finance’s announcement No. 2878 dated September 1, 2016, on savings measures, which instructed budgetary units not to spend their remaining allocated money on expenses during fiscal year 2015-16.

Mr. Somdy said around 1 trillion kip had been saved following the announcement as about 96 percent of the allocated state budget was spent in the year.

The government also plans to strengthen legislation such as the decree relating to procurement, construction, repairs and services, which uses public money.

“We will improve the determination on office construction and repairs to be more concrete, and use Prime Ministerial Decree No. 03 on procurement, bidding and tenders as a tough tool in managing expenses by government agencies,” the Deputy PM said.

Chronic violation of financial discipline by budgetary units and government officials was a major concern raised by NA members.

Mr. Somdy promised that his ministry would evaluate the use of budgets by sectors at the central and local levels.

Tough and decisive measures will be imposed on budgetary units found to be in violation, while promotion will be given to those who use money transparently and effectively for planned purposes. Allocations will be increased for some units next fiscal year in accordance with government agreements.

The Ministry of Finance will strengthen post-expense monitoring and inspection, which will be done quarterly and reported to higher authorities with appropriate penalties for violations.

Improvements of inspection authorities within ministries and agencies and the enhancement of measures against offenders have been proposed by the government with a special focus on revenue collection.

Mr. Somdy said his ministry is drafting legislation on the management of civil servants and officials within the ministry, especially staff responsible for revenue collection and expenditure.

“This second piece of legislation will be an additional specific tool along with the Law on Civil Servants, which will toughen up the law,” he said.

“Offenders within the finance sector will receive tougher punishment than offenders in other ministries and agencies,” Mr. Somdy added.

Source: Vientiane Times