About 30 finance and health devolved function Finance Officers from all nineteen local councils, started a one week financial management training in Makeni on Monday April 21.
The training is part of the on-going effort of the Institutional Reform and Capacity Building Project (IRCBP), to enhance the capacity of personnel working in the finance division of councils to manage the finances of their respective councils.
Proper and efficient management of councils’ finances is absolutely required under the new local government system which calls for transparency and accountability at both the local and central levels of government.
“We want Finance Officers to be properly trained to use public money,” IRCBP Coordinator, Peter Kaindaneh told the trainees at the opening ceremony. Peter Kaindaneh warned that if the present generation of Civil Servants fail to use public monies properly, posterity would suffer.
However, the IRCBP Coordinator cautioned that misuse of public funds can sometimes result from lack of proper management skills rather than from an attempt to defraud the state.
This, according to him, is all the more reason why the training is essential.
The objectives of the training were: To improve the skills and knowledge base of Finance Officers so that they can perform their roles effective in their respective local councils; to help them understand the general basis of preparation of financial reporting and to understand the procedures in stores and stock management.
One manifestation of the link between the central government and the local councils in the current training is the involvement of health devolved function Finance Officers.
The Ministry of Health has reached an advanced stage in the devolution process and it is deemed necessary that Finance Officers in the councils that are charged with the responsibility of handling huge devolved funds from the Ministry must be adequately trained to do so.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Momodu Kargbo who is in charge of revenue, addressed this issue when he told the Trainees that a significant proportion of government’s budget is now transferred to local councils.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the training, the Deputy Minister said the current series of financial management training is meant to improve the capacity of the Finance Officers to handle huge accounts. He warned against neglect of responsibility by the Finance Officers, adding that the watch-word should be, “Value for money.”