For failure to submit handing over notes, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC has ordered that defaulting officials must be suspended for two months. “Any Council official who fails to prepare and submit handing over notes prior to his/her transfer within the stipulated number of days should be suspended for two months without salary” PAC said in their 2017 report on the Annual Accounts. A review of the Auditor General’s Report revealed that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has still not issued out guidelines to the various Local Councils to justify the payment of sitting fees to Councilors and Ward Committee members. Upon that observation, the Committee inferred that it contravened Section 30 of the 2004 Local Government Act. Therefore, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is to be summoned by the House of Parliament for disregarding the recommendations of the Committee and Audit Service in respect of providing guidelines for sitting and transport allowances for Councilors. The Committee further noted that some Chief Administrators, Accounts and Procurement Officers, who were in post when most of the transactions took place were found to have been transferred to other Councils during the Audit Service exercise as well as the Committee’s follow-up visit. Their absence during the period under review affected the work of both the Audit Service and the Committee. Consequently, instead of the stipulated days for the submission of written evidences before their appearance at the Committee’s public hearings, the said officials tendered their written answers only during the Committee hearings.
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The problem was exacerbated when a majority of Council Officials failed to leave handing over notes for their successors. In view of the above, the Committee hereby recommends that the Local Government Service Commission should review its transfer policy in terms of increasing the number of years that core Council staff should serve in a particular Council. This will give them ample time to prepare handing over notes for their successors. The Commission should also ensure that before a particular staff is transferred to another Council, a copy of the handing over notes is sent to the Commission for verification within thirty days. The Committee observed from its discussions with core staff of Councils that promotions and transfers were done by the Local Government Service Commission and sometimes staff were promoted on transfers without reference to staff appraisal system. The Committee emphasised the relevance of staff appraisal, stating that if staff are appraised, it would give Management the opportunity to reward employees based on their hard work and competence, instead of political patronage. Thus, the Committee recommends that before any promotion is carried out, the Local Government Service Commission should ensure that Councils are provided with appraisal forms to enable them systematically and thoroughly evaluate the performance of employees in order to determine their abilities for further growth and development.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
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