Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
Apr 25, 2019 News
Declaring at the start of 2019 that this year will see a significant increase in training within every sector, the Demerara/Mahaica Region Four administration yesterday held a one-day workshop.
The training targeted staffers from the 17 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils [NDCs] which form part of Region Four was held at the BV/Quamina Primary School and saw 105 officials in attendance.
Regional Chairman, Ms. Genevieve Allen, congratulated the participants for seizing the opportunity to attend, while thanking the Regional Democratic Council [RDC] for recognising such an urgent need for the training and thus putting in place the necessary measures to conduct the workshop.
Allen, at the opening of the forum told the participants that they should be gathering information that will help them guide and direct their councils even in a more efficient manner.
She reminded them that the councils as well as the administrators are accountable to the constituents, even as she warned that the residents will only come forward and pay their rates and taxes if they develop
confidence in those who are entrusted with managing the NDCs. “They will only pay if they have confidence that you are going to spend the resources that you received in a wise manner. In a manner done in an equitable,” Allen said.
She continued, “I often say that the work of the councillors is more than sitting around the horseshoe table and I will continue to repeat it. It is working on the ground among the people who are expected to benefit from the services provided by the council.
During campaigns, we are up and about [but] after we are elected our constituents are seeking our attention.”
The Regional Chairman implored all the participants to use the information that they receive to ensure that they govern their councils in a very transparent manner and to ensure that after they would have completed their term of office that they would have left a legacy that many can emulate.
Stressing the urgency and critical need for such a workshop in improving the skills and knowledge base of leaders at the NDCs level, Regional Vice Chairman, Earle Lambert, urged participants to not see the workshop as just ‘another’ workshop but as one which can and has the potential to truly empower them.
He said that workshops like these are rare. He noted the resource persons drawn from the region to conduct the workshop are all highly skilled and knowledgeable in the respective area that they are conducting the training.
He noted that the combination of elected and selected officials will add to the variety of the training, adding that a review of several of the NDCs will reveal the urgent and critical need for training.
Lambert reminded the participants that the training is crucial for their development within the NDC. The Vice Chairman who also heads the Regional Works Committee impressed upon the participants the need for them to utilise the information that will be shared.
He declared that it would certainly enhance the way that many of the NDCs are conducting themselves.
Blaming inexperience and ignorance, Lambert said that many times he is disappointed to see the way several of the NDCs conduct their business, noting that the issue of procurement continues to be a burning one.
The training which targeted a number of areas was organised after the Regional Executive Officer, Ms. Pauline Lucas.
Ms. Lucas expressed an urgent need for such training. She made this call after declaring at a meeting held with the then 15 NDCs that there was a need for urgent and significant training. She warned several NDCs about blatantly and deliberately breaching procurement regulations, while expressing disappointment in the manner that several NDCs were operating in terms of holding meetings and managing their council’s finances.
As such, the training organised specifically for the NDCs sought to address a number of issues among them, the conducting of meetings which was facilitated by the Region’s District Development Officers [DDO] – Rickford Profit and Sherlock Hudson.
Regional Development Officer [RDO], Reshme Chetan, dealt with the Committees of the Council as she explained the various committees that are mandatory within the NDCs. Explaining the roles of administration/councils was the Assistant Regional Executive Officer [AREO], Ramnarine Singh.
Singh also dealt with the issue of financial management, which was identified as a grey area among several of the NDCs. He addressed a number of issues, stressing the urgent need for proper financial management declaring that the workshop is not another ‘talk shop’ as the region is serious about enhancing the overall conduct and performances of NDCs.
He reminded the officials that they should become familiar with their role and responsibilities declaring that it would aid in them delivering effective and efficient service to residents.
Another major area of concern was procurement, which saw REO Lucas addressing this at length. The REO pointed out that procurement makes up for 90 percent of funds used with the remaining 10 percent is for salaries and other minor expenses.
She urged participants to familiarise themselves with the procurement act declaring that knowing and understanding the act is their first responsibility in providing value for monies that their NDCs would have received.
Lucas noted that it was as a result of her passion and desire to have accountability and fairness that led to her setting up within the RDCs the first established procurement department.
The REO said that while it is not fully staffed, which is responsible for some of its shortfalls, she is determined that a reputable and accountable system has been put in place to monitor how the region’s monies are being spent. This, she stressed, is very important and should be modelled by the various NDCs.
“Everything that you do must be out there and when the auditors come, you must be confident that you didn’t do anything contrary as the auditors are there to do their job. None of us are perfect so the auditors will tell you where you went wrong and the next time you will not make the same mistake.
“We must strive to be transparent in everything that we do, and I am appealing to the Overseers that you are expected to be transparent in whatever you do,” she reiterated.
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