There has been scathing criticism of REO Mr Rupert Hopkinson’s slothfulness in addressing financial matters in Region Two. This is particularly related to countersigning payment vouchers and contract documents. However, the meticulous manner in which Mr Hopkinson confronts such challenges is justifiable given his requirement for verification before assigning his signature to a document. He has consistently demonstrated a sense of thoroughness in managing the financial resources at his disposal, while observing due process at every step.
He has publicly exposed instances of corrupt practices, some of which he inherited. He has had cause to withhold and even cancel his signature from a number of questionable payment vouchers.
In another instance, building materials were being mismanaged and had even disappeared. He has since introduced checks and balances to reduce the risk by employing a clerk of works, who will now verify and monitor all building supplies, including used materials which are supposed to be returned as assets of the state.
Much to the Region’s benefit a number of newly recruited Rangers are now deployed in the agricultural areas to monitor drainage and irrigation, and to ensure that trench cleaners adequately deliver based on the specifications of their contract. Incidentally, trench cleaning has been a burning issue over the years since in some instances payments were made even before the trenches and canals were properly cleaned.
However, this scenario no longer exists, since Mr Hopkinson has given clear directives and demanded that verification to be done before approval is given to pay. Standing operational procedures also are many times compromised and this has been repeatedly identified in state audit reports.
The administration has contributed to enhancing the manner in which the procurement of goods and services is done and adherence to tender board procedures.
Further, the minimizing of overpayment, particularly in the education sector is another positive measure.
As at December 31st 2016, Region 2 realized in excess of $147 million dollars in current and capital savings which were utilized on several projects, including the restoration of State House and other dilapidated and abandoned government buildings, which are now available for professional staff to occupy, especially those residing out of the district.
As at August 3rd, 2017 the Region had accrued $93.6 million in savings which will be injected into new projects, some of which have been already identified and are expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter of this year.
Mr Hopkinson has also demanded the filling of vacancies, including the appointment of a Deputy Regional Executive Officer (DREO) to support his drive for the timely and effective implementation of policies and programmes, including the promotion of a green economy.
It is to his credit therefore that gradual but pivotal steps have been taken to champion the cause of transparency, accountability and the rule of law. His managerial skills (he has Bachelor’s degrees in Management Science and Economics as well as a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics) are also quite impressive. Mr Hopkinson remains incorruptible and continues to challenge his workforce to develop an institutionalized culture of professionalism, commitment and care for the utilization of state property. While he is confronted with stern resistance in some quarters, his confidence and versatility have outweighed the critics.