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Realties / ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
28 Oct 5:00pm
   
DEFINITION OF ACCOUNTABILITY Accountability has been variously defined as a way of being answerable or liable for oneís actions and/or inactions and, conduct in office or position. It has also been defined as the process of making elected officials and other office holders accountable and responsible to the people who elected or appointed them for their actions while in office. DEFINITION OF TRANSPARENCY Transparency can be defined as a principle that allows those affected by administrative decisions, business transactions or charitable work to know not only the basic facts and figures but also the mechanisms and processes. It is the duty of civil servants, managers and trustees to act visibly, predictably and understandably. DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT It is an†organizing principle†for human life on a finite planet. It posits a desirable future state for human societies in which living conditions and resource-use meet human needs without undermining the†sustainability†of natural systems and the environment, so that future generations may also have their needs met. World Commission on Environment and Development defined it as "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." THE CONCEPT OF ACCOUNTABILITY EXPANDED Accountability connotes the state or quality of being liable and required by a specified person or group of people to report and justify their actions in relations to specific matters or assigned duties. Accountability can take any of the under listed forms:
  • Social accountability,
  • Financial accountability,
  • Political accountability,
  • Administrative accountability,
  • Ethical accountability and
  • Legal accountability.
SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY It is an approach to enhancing government accountability and transparency. It refers to the wide range of citizen actions to hold the State to account for its actions. Social accountability practices include for example participatory public policy, participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking and citizen monitoring and evaluation of public services. FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY The establishment of the pattern of control over the receipts and expenditures that permits a determination either by the executive or by the legislature (or both) that public monies have been used for public purposes. The justification of estimates, the super-intendance of the use of appropriated funds, the devices for timing the rate of expenditure and the auditing of accounts. POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY It is the accountability of the government, civil servant and politicians to the public and to legislative bodies such as a congress or a parliament. The political office holder of any rank should be accountable to the electorate he has been elected to serve. This is obtainable during periodic elections through which the people decide whether to retain or throw out the incumbent office holders. ADMINISTRATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY It is the use of Internal rules, norms and independent commissions as mechanisms to hold civil servants within the administration of government accountable. The use of financial memoranda (FM) provides a very detailed framework to guide budgeting, planning, accounting procedures, and general financial management in local governments, and routine issuance of circulars by state governments. ETHICAL ACCOUNTABILITY It is the practice of improving overall personal and organizational performance by developing and promoting good morals in an enabling environment for people and organization to embrace self-accountability. LEGAL ACCOUNTABILITY Legal accountability is usually enforced through the Courts, tribunals and, other quasi-judiciary institutions. In developed countries they ensure that everyone, whose conduct is questionable in one form or the other, is subjected to legal accountability regardless of the personís social or political status in the society using their respective laws as basis. IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY If a local government is transparent enough and reports material facts in real time, stakeholders will have more confidence in the management. Transparency also helps those in authority to avoid fraud and put measures in place against it. All these factors put together enable the local governmentís productive capacity and productivity to improve. MECHANISMS FOR TRANSPARENCY There is increased regulation on how financial reporting should be done and who should do it. International Accounting Standards (IASs) (i.e IPSAS) and other regulations are continually being improved so that what is measured, recognised, disclosed and reported is true and fair. Existence of an independent Auditor General for the Local government to pass an opinion on the truth and fairness of the reports made by the local governments. Regulations such as Acts of parliament and codes of best practice are also playing a critical role in enhancing transparency. It is advisable for all local governments, to prepare itís own reports as a management or performance measurement tool. TOOLS TO SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE Increased transparency at the local level can help in combating urban poverty and enhancing civic engagement. Promoting transparency, through the application of a range of public education, public participation, e-governance, ethics and institutional reform instruments, can:
  • reduce citizen apathy
  • make service delivery contribute to poverty reduction
  • increase city revenues
  • raise ethical standards
CAPACITY BUILDING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Available resources for accelerated and sustainable rural development are inefficiently utilized for the purposes intended, thus leaving the local governments today without a reasonable number of qualified professionals. It has become imperative to adopt urgent measures aimed at raising the executive capacity profile of local governments if they are to fulfill the rural development role which has been assigned to this level of government. PREVAILING CHARACTERISTICS OF CAPACITY BUILDING IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
  • Failure to build capacity which can be sustained
  • Failure to address critical national/local objectives
  • Capacity building not treated as a priority, which must be continuous process/efforts
  • Lack of formulation of coherent strategies with a realistic time frame.
STRATEGIES FOR CAPACITY BUILDING IN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
  • Capacity assessment/profile
  • Analysis of the existing capacity problems
  • Assessment of past approaches to capacity building
  • Strengthening the existing system
  • Technology transfer
  • Training to be undertaken through on-the-job, in-service and academic methods through joint collaboration between the federal, state and local governments, donor agencies, foundations, NGOs, CBOs, etc.
  • Staff development at local government and community level must be intensified.
  • Utilize critical expertise that is available from the pool of retired state and federal officers in designated professional areas for specified periods on contract basis.
  • Carry out recruitment of suitably qualified persons to improve the quality of staff available at the local government level.
     28 Oct 5:00pm
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