The 5th Exchange Forum between members of Senate’s Finance and Budget Committee and officials of the Supreme Court’s Audit Bench held yesterday in Yaounde. The rate of submission of accounts by local councils to the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court for review has been disappointing. According to the Audit Bench’s 2013 Annual Report, out of 374 accounts expected from local and city councils every year, only 31 were produced in 2013, representing 8.3 per cent decrease rate compared to the year 2012. “There is a management problem in terms of technical, managerial and financial competence of mayors, municipal treasurers and council staff,” complained the President of the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Marc Ateba Ombala, during the 5th Exchange Forum between his institution and members of the Finance and Budget Committee of the Senate led by Senator Elie Tsoungui Essomba.
Deploring the lapse as a major concern for the Audit Bench and Parliament in their objectives to audit public accounts, he told the Senators and representatives of partner organisations and government pro-governance agencies that only a concerted action could boost the production of accounts and implementation of the Audit Bench’s decisions. Besides the presentation of the Audit Bench’s 2013 Annual Report, an overview of accounts of local authorities was presented. A balance sheet of the first phase (2010-2015) of the decentralisation process indicated that 20 ministries had transferred responsibilities and resources to local councils. Since 2010, over FCFA 192 billion worth of resources from the Public Investment Budget have been equally been transferred. Meanwhile, FCFA 251.7 billion collected by the State was paid by the Special Council Support Fund for Mutual Assistance (FEICOM) to municipal councils, city councils and sub-divisional councils as additional council taxes. Thus, while transferred responsibilities are increasing, the absence of qualified council staff to manage this new dispensation was deplored.