This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.


MBABANE – The minister of Finance will now have powers to revoke the appointment of a controlling officer if the latter commits an offence of financial misconduct.

A controlling officer is the principal secretary or an officer, designated by the minister to be responsible for the control of each head of expenditure and each item of revenue in the estimate of revenue and expenditure. It is the minister who shall designate the PS or an officer to be the controlling officer; and it is the minister who may revoke the designation. The new powers are provided for in the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill of 2023.


In the Bill, there is a new section, which gives the finance minister the new powers, that replaces Section 8 of the Principal Act, which is the Public Finance Management Act of 2017.
“The minister may, subject to the provisions of Section 33 of the Constitution, in writing, revoke the designation of a controlling officer or any function or power or any part of such designation,” reads Section 8 (3) of the amendment Bill. Section 33 of the Constitution talks about ‘right to administrative justice’ and states that a person appearing before any administrative authority has a right to be heard and to be treated justly and fairly in accordance with the requirements imposed by law, including the requirements of fundamental justice or fairness and has a right to apply to a court of law in respect of any decision taken against that person, with which that person is aggrieved. It further provides that a person appearing before any administrative authority has a right to be given reasons in writing for the decision of that authority. In the amendment Bill, it is stated that the minister, for purposes of determining whether or not to revoke the designation of a controlling officer, shall appoint an ad hoc committee.


The ad hoc committee shall comprise of the secretary to cabinet (who shall be the chairperson), the auditor general or a representative, the attorney general or a representative, the PS in the Ministry of Finance (who shall be the secretary) and the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission. “The ad hoc committee shall investigate a failure by the controlling officer to control each head of expenditure and each item of revenue in the estimates of revenue and expenditure  and shall make recommendations in writing to the minister based on the investigation,” reads Section 8(7) of the Bill. There are at least 11 responsibilities spelled out in the Bill as falling upon the controlling officer and these include:
* Controlling the spending and prompt collection of public monies in respect of expenditure or revenue specified in the estimates;
* Ensuring that no amount is spent in excess of the amounts specified in the treasury warrants;
* Ensuring that public monies are spent only for the purpose for which they are authorised;
* Giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee where so required;
* Obtaining monthly statements of expenditure from sub-warrant holders;
* Sending a monthly statement of expenditure to the principal secretary responsible for Finance:
* And ensuring each month that the controlling officer’s accounts are reconciled with treasury records by obtaining a certificate to this effect from their principal accounting officer.
* Further, the controlling officer is expected to: ensure that accounting officers have clear written instructions about the performance of their duties and that all financial and accounting instructions are observed:
* Issue after agreement with the accountant general, such additional accounting instructions, which concern only the controlling officer’s department to the accounting officers;
* Ensure that a proper system of accounts as prescribed in the instructions by or under the authority of the accountant general is established and maintained;
* And ensure that the provisions for any special fund or trading account are duly followed.

The Section 8 that is to be struck off the Principal Act contained the responsibilities of the PS, among which is: to advise Cabinet and a line minister on public finances and the management of public resources of that line ministry; to manage the resources of the line ministry in compliance with this Act; and to supervise the management of resources in entities in the vote of the line ministry. Besides the new powers over the controlling officers, the amendment Bill also gives the finance minister the authority to establish trading accounts.
A trading account is described in the Bill as a self-replenishing account, authorised by the minister, for a specific financially viable activity or project, in which the expenditure and revenue of the account shall flow. “The minister may authorise the establishment of accounts to be known as trading accounts to which all expenditure incurred and all revenue received for the purpose for which the trading accounts are established, shall be debited or credited as the case may be,” reads the new sub-section, which is inserted in Section 41.


It adds that the trading account shall be established in accordance with regulations made pursuant to the Public Finance Management Act. The Bill also seeks to amend the Section 80 of the Act by amending two new sub-sections after sub-section (8). These include Section 80(9), which reads: “The principal secretary of the ministry responsible for finance shall be responsible for the overall management of the assets of government.” Then there is Section 80(10), which reads: “Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-sections (6), (7), and (8), a chief executive officer of a public entity. Local Government or Government business enterprise shall request in writing the authority or transfer the assets of the public entity, Local Government or Government business enterprise from the Principal Secretary of the ministry responsible for finance before the transferring of such assets.”


A chief executive officer is defined in the Principal Act as the person who has the principal managerial responsibility for a public entity, local government or government business enterprise and includes a principal secretary of a ministry or a person designated as a controlling officer in any other law. There is also a new section (123), which states that where there is any inconsistency between the Public Finance Management Act of 2017 and any other law dealing with the management of public finances and public debt, the Public Finance Management Act shall take precedence.