Feb 06, 2019 News Comments Off on Minister demands accountability on Local Gov’t Commission spending
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, is demanding accountability from the Local Government Commission, (LGC) as it relates to expenditures of its 2019 budget.
Minister Bulkan commented on the LGC‘s budgetary expenditure following reports that the staff of the LGC have not yet been paid their January salaries.
Former Minister and LGC Commissioner, Norman Whittaker, had issued a statement detailing his concerns over the non-payment.
He accused officials attached to the Ministry of Communities of promoting an insidious parallel administration aimed at interfering with the work of the Commission by way of unauthorized interventions and directives.
“As at January 31, 2019, the staff of the Local Government Commission and its Commissioners have not been paid their salaries because the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities has either unilaterally decided or has been directed not to sign the cheque to facilitate such payment.”
According to Whittaker, the issue not only stymies the work of the LGC but also denies Commission staff the benefits to which they are entitled and which is provided for in the Commission‘s Act.
Whittaker cited sections 22, 23, 24 of the Local Government Commission Act 2013 which allows the Commission to, inter alia, (a) employ necessary staff and to determine their remuneration and “other terms and Conditions of employment (b) determine its “own annual budget” for submission to the Minister of Finance and approval of the National Assembly…”
According to Whittaker, the Local Government Commission is being treated as a subvention agency and is required inter alia, to write to the Ministry for releases to meet approved expenditures.
Despite the legal contentions, Minister Bulkan told Kaieteur News that accountability is of paramount importance when it comes to State funds.
He noted that concerns over the LGC spending developed after it was revealed that payments for the staff exceeded the levels approved by the Ministry of Finance at average of 58-150 percent.
“Should the Commission continue to pay that level of emolument; the 2019, budget will not be enough to cover all current expenditure up to December 31, 2019. This would be in violation of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.”
Bulkan explained the issue came to the fore on January 15, last, when the LGC submitted documents for the Ministry to counter sign.
According to the Minister, examination of the vouchers revealed that the level of payment of staff exceeded that of Public Service levels. Additionally, he noted that there was no authorization for the increases from the Minister of Finance.
According to the Minister, the Ministry is awaiting information from the LGC as it relates to its operational cost for 2019.
“That request was made three weeks ago. The Commission is yet to respond. We have to make sure that the commission is able to meet operational cost.
The payroll for 2019 is approximately $113 M or 91 percent of the Commission‘s annual budget.
The Commission is required to submit a cash flow and work programme within 2019 but has not complied with the request.”
“Should the Ministry counter sign to the payroll without this , it will be a breach of the fiscal Management and accountability Act of 2003, Section 30 (1)and the Finance Secretary Circular No.1 A dated January 2019 Section 2 3.1,” Bulkan added.
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