Regional Executive Officers risk penalties over financial irregularities – Whittaker

Regional Executive Officers (REOs) who fail to curtail financial irregularities in their respective regions will face a range of penalties including the withholding of their gratuities, says Interim Local Government and Regional Development Minister Norman Whittaker.

Such measures will be taken to pressure the REOs, who function as the top financial officers of the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs), to better monitor and supervise their respective region’s finances, Whittaker said during a press briefing last week.

While Whittaker noted the REO may not himself/herself be directly responsible for the financial malpractice which takes place from time to time in the various regions, he said that holding the REO ultimately accountable will force him/her to put pressure on subordinates to adhere to financial regulations.

Collin Croal, the ministry’s Perma-nent Secretary, was also present at the press briefing and he said that two REOs have not received their gratuities for the second half of last year due to matters under investigation. Croal would not however, name the REOs and/or the regions they represent.

Year after year the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament continues to hear cases of overpayments made to RDC employees, or contracting firms hired by the regions to undertake projects. Tens of millions continue to be paid to persons no longer in the employ of the region because the relevant persons were not able to discern this fact in time, and contractors are frequently paid the full contract sums for work which they have either left unfinished or not completed according to contractual specifications.

In both instances, recouping the amounts continues to be a challenge for a myriad of reasons, including death and migration of contractors and past employees.

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