The ghost that is, Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS) which continues to torment all the suppliers dealing with the government from the government enclave finance ministry headquarters, is far from ending its terror.
GABS which has become a nightmare to every local entrepreneur/businessman, was last upgraded in 2018 and to this day the system still experiences slowness, at times of none availability of the network.
For over a decade that the GABS system has been place, there has never been a year where it seemed getting closer to working smoothly. This then hugely affects the processing of payments turnaround time significantly by the government to the suppliers.
When tabling his ministry’s committee of supply paper this week, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka told parliament that, “having realised this situation, at any point when GABS is down for more than 30 minutes, ministry’s departments have been advised to process payments to suppliers manually.”
He however, indicated that this is not encouraged as it contributes to data inaccuracies, but assured that an engagement is ongoing with the Ministry of Transport and Communication around the possibility of ring-fencing the GABS servers that provide support to the business community for a minimal impact on service delivery.
GABS is a web based system that functions only when there is internet connectivity. The absence of internet is exacerbated by the old ICT infrastructure; hence the Ministry of Transport and Communications had to recently migrate Oracle Systems including GABS to new servers which are Oracle super cluster servers.
Years ago, the Government invested a huge amount of money connecting to the global submarine networks , Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and West Africa Cable system (WACS) with an aim to improve on the internet connectivity, the network situation remains stagnant than improving.
On financial inclusion, the Finance ministry working with Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) offers deed of sessions commonly referred to as Government Purchase Order Financing Service for Government jobs amongst others. Dr Matsheka explained that this arrangement is intended to address an outcry from local companies which fails to execute Government projects due to cash flow constraint thereby enhancing financial inclusion. Such facilities will benefit Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), youth and start-up businesses who often do not have the required financial track record or collateral to access credit from financial institutions such as commercial banks.