Municipalities are benefitting from a series of round table discussions, hosted by the Ministry of Communities, which will enhance their financial management.
The first of the series of discussions was held today at the Tower Suites under the theme “strengthening financial management for sustainable municipal development.”
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, formally opening the exercise, explained that it is crucial for the strengthening of local government organs to improve financial management of municipalities and local councils.
Minister Bulkan related that institutional strengthening and capacity building of the municipalities are priorities of this administration. “His Excellency has articulated the concept and the vision of capital towns. One that embeds itself in our communities. It is incumbent that these capital towns be equipped to effectively harness and strategically deploy their resources, to the benefit of their citizens”, he explained.
Alluding to the recently sworn in Local Government Commission, Minister Bulkan noted that, “The task of restoring rebuilding and reconstructing capacity of local government is one that cannot be achieved overnight but will be accomplished eventually.”
The Minister of Communities committed to collaborate with relevant agencies, to ensure improved accountability and greater transparency, when using public funds.
Speaking on the importance of strategic financial management for sustainable municipal development, Finance Secretary Dr. Hector Butts reminded that municipalities must make critical financial decisions, in order to avoid deficits.
Dr. Butts highlighted that financial management requires “that one keeps one’s eyes on deficit as you look at your budget you need to consider deficits and to identify that deficits don’t come about because persons get caught up in discretionary spending which tend to surface more from a day to day perspectives as a planned perspective.”
The Finance Secretary stated that the Ministry has an ‘open door policy’ to assist the Ministry of Communities to give guidance where necessary. He urged that, in financial management, municipalities align their visions with that of Central Government’s.
“Projects and programmes should be identified in keeping in line with those. You will need to identify with some objectives because you will have scarce resources and would have to make priorities.”
Meanwhile, Auditor General Deodat Sharma applauded the session, which he opined will improve the financial status of municipalities. “It is very important for to have good governance, ensure that you have transparency in your activities and to have proper accountability, you have to produce your accounts. 2016 should have been already presented to us for audit purpose.”
Linden Mayor and Chairman of the Guyana Association of Municipalities, Carwyn Holland said the forum provides municipalities with the opportunity to practice sound financial management which is essential for the long term sustainability of towns. He noted that weak financial management resulted in misuse of resources and increased the risk of corruption.
“Municipal financial management involves managing a range of interrelated components planning and budgeting revenue cash and expenditure, procurement, asset management and reporting and oversight each component contributes to ensuring that expenditure is developmental and that municipalities are held accountable.”
During the event, newly elected chairman of the Local Government Commission (Holland) was celebrated as he vowed that the body will carry out its duties and responsibilities according to the laws, as enshrined under the Local Government Act.
“We intend to be transparent in our deliberations and we intend to keep the members of the various municipalities abreast of our work, and what we intend to do in order to enhance accountability and transparency in the delivery of prudence local governance, in our community.” He also disclosed that Andrew Garnett was elected deputy Chairman of the commission.
By: Ranetta La Fleur