… as Region 10 Chairman cries fowl over lack of staff
Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Chairman Renis Morian said the administration of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) will not submit to threats of sanctions by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), since he said it is a known fact that the Council is seriously understaffed.
During the monthly statutory meeting on Thursday, Morian engaged the Council on a meeting which he attended with the PAC last week, noting that the administration had been threatened with sanctions over its financial accountability.
“While it is very important for us to meet with the Committee to better the performance of the agency… I took serious umbrage to the fact that, overnight, some of the issues that we’re dealing with in Region 10 as it relates to financial accountability dates back beyond our tenure here… I take umbrage to the fact that the administration of this region was being threatened with sanctions, when for us to execute efficient and effectively we need to have the prerequisite staff,” Morian stated.
The Regional Chairman said he explained to one of the officials that as Chairman of the Council, he will not sit and allow any of the agencies to sanction officers of the RDC when they are aware that the region does not have the necessary tools as well. He said while the administration is willing to work, these are some of the issues it has been plagued with.
He said it is disturbing that the agency is looking at corruption from as far back as 10 years ago when the present administration of the RDC was not present. Morian declared that the region will up its game but will not submit to any sanctions under the present condition.
According to the Regional Chairman, the RDC needs adequate staff to function effectively as he indicated that he felt threatened after hearing about threats and sanctions against the REO and staff when the RDC would have been asking for relevant staff, but to no avail. He added that more disturbing is that “people who were “part of the corruption” are threatening sanctions.” Apart from that, Morian said the Council was advised to improve its Finance Committee but noted that he never called a Finance Committee since he was not in possession of a Terms of Reference (ToR). He noted however that he has since secured a draft of the ToR, as he announced that the Finance Committee will now be “moving off”. The Regional Chairman added that the administration was also encouraged to look at realistic budgeting in the areas of health and education. Henceforth, he said all contracts in those areas must now have the signature of the Finance and Works Committee.
However, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Irfaan Ali, on Friday lashed out at the Regional Chariman’s comments about being threatened, noting that the PAC has not issued any threat to any official. He noted that what the PAC did was warn errant officers that breaches highlighted by the Auditor General will not be tolerated.
Ali, in an interview with <<<Guyana Times>>> said, “the Finance Secretary has pointed specifically to section of the Fiscal Management And Accountability Act (FMAA) that deals with offences and violation that Act, procurement legislation and other pieces of regulations and laws that outlines the roles and responsibilities of accounting officers.
He candidly pointed out that the shortage of staff “cannot be an excuse for breaches in the procurement and financial system.”
“Whilst we acknowledge the need to have a full complement of staff, which by the way is part of the PAC recommendation, we cannot use this as an excuse to breach the financial rules and regulations. What all elected officials at the regional level should do, as pointed out by the PAC, is to ensure they have proper oversight of the system. The Regional Finance Committee, Works Committee and tender boards must we effervescent, efficient, proactive and fully functional,” Ali said.