Public Accounts Committee calls for urgent overhaul

May 21, 2024 6:39 am

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Esrom Immanuel

The recommendations of the public accounts committee in the past were not taken seriously by municipalities under the previous administrations.

This was highlighted by the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Esrom Immanuel while tabling the audit reports of municipal councils for the years 2021–2022. The report covered financial statements for the 10 municipalities dating back as far as 2011.

Assistance Finance Minister states that delays, backlogs, a lack of compliance with the financial reporting framework, and a lack of compliance with the Local Government Act were prevalent due to insufficient supporting documents.

Article continues after advertisement

Immanuel says that according to Sections 57.1 and 3 of the Local Government Act 1972, municipal councils are to produce and publish their audited financial statements; however, most of them failed to meet those legislative requirements.

“Under this new committee, under a new government, we are not going to accept that, sir. We are going to improve the situation for the betterment of the municipalities and for the country.”

The Assistant Minister says they are targeting, with the assistance of the Office of the Auditor-General, to update all accounts in the financial year 2025.

Immanuel also highlighted in Parliament that they have placed an urgent recommendation to all the municipalities.

“But I will just highlight one that we discussed with all the municipalities, and that is that we’ve given them July 24 to submit an action plan to the Committee and National Parliament on the updating of the financial accounts, clearance of all the unsubstantiated balances, and identification and resolution of all audit issues raised from 2013 to 2018.”

The chair of the public accounts committee says that actions include recommendations and implementations of verification and finally any write-offs, and they have given the municipalities another six months until January 2026 for those actions to be implemented with the assistance of the Ministry of Finance for possible write-offs.

Immanuel adds that the Committee strongly recommends that immediate action be taken by the municipalities to improve financial accountability.

He says that the Committee will continue to highlight issues in this until these municipalities improve their audit status and strengthen their system and process for public funds accountability purposes.