Financial management training for local government officers concludes

16 Dec 2011

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JUBA: Seventy-Nine Local Government Officers from the ten states of the Republic of South Sudan completed a comprehensive Financial Management Training for Local Government Officers that concluded in Juba today. The main aim of the training programme was to develop solid financial management capacity at the county level in order to increase the revenues of local counties and improve their resource management and reporting.

The training was organized by Local Government Board (LGB) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Capacity Building Trust Fund (CBTF).

The three-week training programme upgraded the knowledge of these Local Government Officials on accounting concepts, financial reporting, procurement procedures, cash management, budgeting, auditing, financial planning and management. Each of three subject areas, budgeting, accounting and procurement, was taught for a week, based on modules developed by the GATC.

“With the passage of the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, local governments are also expected to observe the principles and requirements stipulated in the law. It is crucial for local government officers to be fully aware of them for improving financial discipline and service delivery,” Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, First Undersecretary of Finance of MoFEP,

The Officers gained solid understanding on the government’s interim public procurement regulations and international best practices through a combination of lectures, discussions and practical exercises. The trainers at the Government Accountancy Training Centre (GATC), a team of South Sudanese and international consultants were impressed with the high level of attention and dedication by the local government officers, making this programme one of the most rewarding experiences for them. Dorcas Sunday Oliver a local government officer from Eastern Equatoria State, said, “This training has taught us a lot. We are empowered with the knowledge on financial management.”

Joseph Malek Deng from Aweil West County of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State echoed, “We are confident that we can start implementing what we have learned back in the counties. We expect the government to support us by issuing circulars and conducting audits.”

Ambassador Steven Wondu, the Auditor General, who held a session with the participants during the training, emphasized a range of responsibilities entrusted to local government officers not only in managing local government affairs but also serving as role models for the communities. This is particularly important for young generations, as they represent government authority in front of the people.

He said, “I will come to each one of you whenever I want in ‘another form’ if not myself,” indicating that the Audit Chamber will start auditing local government finances soon.

The participants were selected out of a pool of more than 200 officers who received foundation trainings in 2008 – 2009 by the LGB with UNDP support. Hon. Kwong Danhier Gatluak, Deputy Minister of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, outlined a civil service development policy of the government. Speaking at the closing ceremony, he emphasised the importance of civil service in the country. “The most valuable resources of the country are not oil or gold but are human resources. Local government officers are established civil service of South Sudan who are the backbone of the country for serving citizens.” Hon. Anthony Arike, the Deputy Chairman of the LGB resonated by encouraging the participants to pass the knowledge to their colleagues in the states and counties.

The MoFEP and LGB are currently planning to develop a local government financial management regulation, easy-to-understand manuals and a set of standard training modules for staff, officers and policy makers at county level.

The local government officers, who have attended the three-week public financial management training, are expected to spearhead the efforts at local level with more effective supervision of county accountants and instilling good judgment and integrity in county administration.

Mandisa Mashologu, Team Leader of Poverty Reduction/MDG Unit of UNDP South Sudan said, “Public financial management is at the core of government functions for responsible and sustainable service delivery. UNDP is committed to providing capacity development support in this area for all levels of the government, with more attention to local government, the level of government closet to the people.”