The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development is in the process of instituting measures aimed at further strengthening the accountability framework at Municipal Corporations.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says chief among these is the implementation of a new accounting-based system, for which technical assistance support is being provided by the European Union (EU).
He also mentioned the proposed establishment of audit committees at all Corporations, for which the input of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service is being sought.
The Minister was making his contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 21), under the theme ‘Building National Resilience through Continuous Investment in Local Government’.
Mr. McKenzie said the EU’s input, to incorporate the International Public Sector Accounting Standard, is being facilitated through grant-support assistance under the organisation’s Technical Cooperation Facility.
This is intended to, among other things: eliminate arrears in the local authorities’ financial statements and review the organisational structures of their finance divisions; develop draft accounting manuals and other standard operational guidelines; and identify and value the land and other assets possessed by the local authorities.
“When this project is implemented, it will become a game-changer for the local authorities in strengthening their ability to be accountable and transparent. I must say thanks to the European Union (EU) for helping us to make this critical aspect of governance a reality,” the Minister said.
Regarding the audit committees, Mr. McKenzie noted that the Finance Ministry has the authority, under the financial regulations, to institute these bodies in each Corporation, adding that “we are well down the road in establishing this very vital organ of transparency and accountability”.
He advised that other measures have been embarked on in recognition that “there are gaps in the formal process of accountability”.
Among these, the Minister informed, is the issuance of letters of accountability to chief executive officers and accounting officers, which he said, is consistent with the Local Government (Financing and Financial Management) Act.
“We recognise that there are weaknesses in the system [and so] the process of accountability is high in the agenda. We are making efforts to ensure that we put in place the necessary mechanism to [rectify these],” Mr. McKenzie pointed out.
“This Administration will take the necessary steps to ensure that transparency is at the forefront of our work, and is committed in ensuring that we achieve [this] objective,” the Minister added.