…says Council, not Ministry, has responsibility for appointing ‘these officers’
Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Communities Ministry, Emil McGarrel told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday that the reason why the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) did not submit Financial Statements for 2006-2013 and 2015, even though they are in violation of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, is because the Councillors are not financially competent enough to undertake such endeavours.
McGarrel, supported by staff of the Communities Ministry and of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, appeared before the PAC based on information revealed in the Auditor General’s 2015 report, relating to the Ministry of Communities.
Among some of the issues addressed at the PAC was the outstanding Financial Statements of the municipalities.
The Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 of the laws of Guyana, requires all accounts of the Municipal and District Councils to be made up yearly to the end of the financial year by the Treasurer of the council. These accounts are to be made up no later than four months after the end of the financial year to which they are related, for auditing by the Auditor General soon after.
According to the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 of the laws of Guyana, Section 176, the responsibility of submitting Financial Statements for the councils lies solely with the Treasurer of the councils.
McGarrel explained that the failure of the council to submit these statements is a problem of poor financial management. He said that this is a challenge that has several root causes including the financial standing of the councils to employ the necessary skills, needed for effective management.
“If you do an analysis of the officers holding position (of) Treasurer in most of the councils, it will let you know that you need to do more work to attract greater skills,” McGarrel said. He noted that the issue is exacerbated by the fact that the Council, not the Ministry, has the responsibility for appointing these officers.
Notwithstanding this, the Communities PS said that his Ministry has started discussions with the Auditor General’s Office on the development of a strategy to empower the Councils to improve their financial management capabilities.