|Sunday, 20 February 2005|
Accounting system for post tsunami funding
by V. R. K. de Silva.
The tsunami brought with it an unprecedented tragedy and also brought forth the necessity of overcoming the grave and precarious situation we are faced with. A national disaster plan has still not been made for reconstruction.
The effects of this tragedy is not confined only to the tsunami affected areas but the entire country. It is in this context that a good system of accounting should be installed which would provide independent audit and performance related investment returns. The office of the Auditor General would be the ideal institution to carry out this task.
This office could co-ordinate the process and the Auditor General should report to Parliament not annually, but monthly, since this tragedy warrants minimum delay, so that various authorities could take immediate action to execute the tasks assigned to it.
1. A statement of pledges given by foreign donors should be issued by the government on a monthly basis.
2. A statement of promises should also be issued. They do not amount to a pledge but a statement would enable the government to pursue it to result in actual donation.
3. All pledges and aid actually received should be made only to the government and not to individuals or private organisations or NGOs.
4. The statements issued by the government would enable the public to be aware of the situation in donor aid.
Donations would be in the following form:
(a) Cash in dollars or rupees or any other currency.
(c) Other Projects.
(d) Duration of utilisation should be indicated. If the utilisation period lapses, the country looses the pledged balance aid.
There are several ways where the monies are received from foreign governments.
1. Government to government donations with the time frame for utilisation -
(c) Other Projects,
(d) Consultancy and other services like medical, construction. Surveying Earley Warning Systems etc. A cost benefit analysis should be made.
2. Foreign Government aid to NGOs - directly should be banned.
3. Foreign Government aid to other organisations - directly should be banned.
4. Foreign Government aid to Individuals - directly should be banned.
5. A statement of unutilised balance.
A monthly statement should be issued by the Central Bank with details of;
(a) The names of the Donors,
(b) The amount and the currency,
(c) Duration of the loan or outright grants,
(d) Briefly the conditions attached to these loans or outright grants,
(e) A statement should be submitted to the Auditor General,
(f) The Auditor General should examine these Statements and issue his and observations and recommendations on a monthly basis. As the time frame for these statements together with the observations and recommendations should be strictly adhered to. Parliament should immediately take up and discuss these issues.
Receipt of foreign aid
The receipts of aid would be through the external Resources Division of the Ministry of Finance. Financial transactions should also be monitored.
The disbursement of Funds should be by the Treasury in the manner outlined below -
Secretaries to Ministry
In the disbursement of funds the proper paying authority should be indicated. The paying authority should have no authority in the allocation of funds. This should be made by (a) Secretary to Ministry (b) Departmental Heads.
Full detailed lists of projects indicating the amount, value, duration and location should be indicated.
Pradeshiya Sabha as an example five schools in the Pradeshiya Sabha.
As for cash given directly to tsunami victims, properly documented payments should be identified and a monthly list of recipients, giving date, name, address and amount with the recipients' signature and I.D. card No. and the recipients' photograph attached and provided.
A file should be opened for each of these recipients. This would avoid dummy payments to a great extent, loopholes for false and dishonest disbursement would be eliminated. As witnesses to these payments such as gramasevakas and other responsible officials should countersign these payments.
This would be in the form of cash, construction of houses and provision of services and NGOs contributions. The government should monitor these contributions and a monthly statement should be issued by the government giving details of the Projects undertaken by the local donors. The newspapers should give information where housing projects are to be carried out by these firms and cash contributions.
Cash disbursed by the Private Sector and NGOs should be listed and this information should be brought to the notice of the government among other things, for security reasons.
More than 50 years have passed since independence. The progress made is unsatisfactory. There is unbridled corruption and anti-social elements continue to dominate in every field and aspect of the socio economic system. The leadership and the administrative machinery has lost sight of serving the people, and they only serve themselves. The few who are selfless are either sidelined or completely eliminated.
There is no transparency in the present set up. This corruption has eaten into the very fabric of society.
The administration from the top to the lower ranks are corrupt. Consequently the politicians have only compounded the situation. The well creased sartorial elegance of the politician only shows the purity of his attire and not the man.
The political and administrative set up should be purged of these elements. It is very necessary that special legislation be introduced for social and economic crimes, and the system of justice should include extremely deterrent punishment with life imprisonment, to say the least.
Every system designed for the proper recording and accuracy will be destroyed if the administrative, financial and political leadership is corrupt.
I feel that the leadership should have an iron determination, ruthless efficiency with the noble vision of Lenin and the sublime compassion and the timeless message of the Buddha.
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