– Communities Ministry PS
Talks are currently underway between the Ministry of Communities and the Auditor General (AG), to formulate strategies that will better improve the financial management of Local Democratic Organs (LDOs) within the state.
This was according to the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry, Emil McGarrel yesterday – who amongst others – attended the Parliament of Guyana’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting at the Public Buildings Georgetown, yesterday morning.
Attending the meeting also, were other Ministry representatives and officials of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC).
The group appeared before the PAC based on information revealed in the Auditor General’s 2015 report, relating to the Ministry of Communities, which highlighted several issues with regards to outstanding Financial Statements of municipalities.
It is required by law that all accounts of Municipal and District Councils be made up yearly at the end of the financial year. These accounts are then required to be forwarded to the Auditor General to be audited. The Treasurer of these councils, it was revealed, has the sole responsibility for submitting said Statements.
However, these requirements have for years been shunned by several Councils. This has led to a great deal of scrutiny, especially as it relates to how monies paid to these organs are spent.
Previous reports have indicated that the M&CC for instance, has not submitted Financial Statement for 2006-2013 and 2015. The entity just a few days ago, unveiled its $2.8B budget.
PS McGarrel posited yesterday, that the failure of the council to submit these statements is an indication that improvements are needed to enhance financial management. He stressed on the domino effect it has on other aspects of management, including the financial standing of the entity to recruit the necessary skills that will contribute to effective management.
He stated that if an analysis of the officers holding position of Treasurer in most of the councils is done, it will reveal that more work is needed to “attract greater skills”.
McGarrel noted also that Councils have the responsibility to recruit these persons, and not the Ministry. The Ministry does more in-depth vetting, he pointed out.
The PS said that resolving the financial management challenges of councils in general, will be one of the areas that the Ministry will be focusing on this year, as the entity moves to execute several workshops and seminars in the coming weeks.
Last month, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, told media operatives that the Government’s principal task is to repair and rehabilitate the “broken Local Government System that we have inherited.”
While the Ministry has started this task, the Minister said that it is a herculean task which would require input from all stakeholders.
Bulkan also spoke about the need to have a change of perceptions and attitudes, citing also the need to have institutional strengthening and capacity building which will have to take place at the level of each Local Government Council.
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