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Ministry Moves to Strengthen Internal Monitoring Controls for Councils

In swift response to media reports citing cases of improprieties and breaches of the government guidelines mentioned in the Auditor General’s report for last year, Minister of Local Government and Community Development the Hon. Noel Arscott, has summoned the management of the affected parish councils to a meeting at the Ministry on Wednesday morning.
The six (6) councils are being requested to take along with them supporting documentation and provide the Minister with the appropriate responses to the incidents identified in the Auditor General’s Annual Report of 2010-2011.
“We heartily welcome the Auditor General’s Annual Report and have taken keen note of its contents involving the councils mentioned. We will now seek to meet with the parish council heads as well as our internal auditors and financial team to pore over the report and assess each incident on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Since the tabling of the Report, the parish councils were requested on January 24, to provide a response to the incidents cited in the Report and attend a review meeting with a technical team at the Ministry.
The Minister was consulting with members of his internal team today following media reports and the negative implications for the parish councils and the KSAC which have been cited for systemic weaknesses in adherence to stipulated legislations and guidelines.
“We certainly, will leave no stones unturned in getting to the heart of the anomalies highlighted in the report as it strikes a blow at the very foundation of the chief pillars of the local government reform process – accountability, transparency and fiduciary prudence,” Minister Arscott said.
He also noted that as stewards of the nation’s resources, the Ministry has a responsibility to ensure that the highest principles of fiduciary prudence are upheld on behalf of the citizens of this country.
Arising from today’s meeting, the following strategies and measures were identified to address the situation:
(i)                 increase the frequency of fixed and random audits
(ii)               apply sanctions for the non-adherence to proper accountability processes
(iii)             conduct a general assessment and review of the current monitoring mechanism employed by the ministry
(iv)             strengthen and bolster the audit unit within the ministry
The Minister will also be embarking on a series of familiarization visits to the councils in the coming weeks as well as use the opportunity to deepen the dialogue on the issues and the way forward in preventing recurrences.