NASSAU, Bahamas — During his contribution to the Mid-Year Budget debate in Parliament Wednesday, Minister of State for Lands and Local Government the Hon. Byran Woodside said the Government created an internal Monitoring Unit that will ensure accountability and transparency in the Local Government system.
Mr. Woodside said a one-day conclave was held in December 2008 for all Family Island Administrators to inform them of the establishment of the Monitoring Unit.
The Unit has a number of objectives:
- To oversee the execution of all budgetary and financial matters related to Local Government Districts;
- To ensure that the District Council and Administrator’s Office manage their financial human resources and other assets under their control in a manner consistent with the Local Government Act and other established policies and guidelines for Local Government;
- To evaluate on an on-going and systematic basis, the performance of individual districts in pursuit of their statutory and policy obligations;
- To make regular reports on the collective and individual performance of Local Government Districts on matters related to accountable use of public resources;
- To investigate and report immediately to relevant authorities, any actual or perceived irregularities in the management of Local Government finances or breaches in administrative guidelines;
- To ensure that Local Government recordkeeping and reports are sufficient and appropriate to permit successful audits by the Auditor General and other external auditors;
- To make recommendations to the relevant authorities on methods for improving the administration of Local Government either in specific districts or on a systematic basis.
“It is anticipated that the internal Monitoring Unit will pay special attention to all internal controls and ensure that there is adherence to all relevant laws and regulations,” Mr. Woodside said. “The overall goal of the unit will be to enhance accountability, transparency and efficiency.”
He added that the Unit is operational and already reviewing the cashbooks and the supporting documents from a number of Districts.
“One District has been given benefit of the assistance of the Unit to help with outstanding bank reconciliations. In addition, the deficiency in this District has prompted the Family Island Administrator to request training from the Treasury and Auditor General for all the Districts on the island in bank reconciliation procedures.”
Mr. Woodside also updated the House on plans for the upcoming 5th Commonwealth Local Government Conference (CLGC) to be held in Grand Bahama at Our Lucaya Hotel from May 11-14, 2009.
He explained that to-date, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, the organising entity out of the United Kingdom, has advised that more than 470 persons have already registered for the Conference.
“It is anticipated that some 600 delegates from throughout the Commonwealth (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Basin and the Caribbean) will travel to Grand Bahama.”
The Minister of State said it is hoped that at least 100 of these delegates will travel to Abaco, Bimini or Sweeting’s Cay during the pre and post conference study tours.
He said, “Study tours provide the opportunity for dialogue, comparison, sharing and understanding of Local Government projects, partnerships and challenges faced daily by practitioners and policy makers.”
Further, Mr. Woodside explained that delegates to the CLGC will also be afforded the opportunity to visit the three Local Government Districts on the island of Grand Bahama.
“Each visit will highlight Local Government in action and in partnership with Non-Government Organisations, private sector businesses and foreign investors.”