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Hanover PC back in local government good books - McKenzie satisfied with mechanism to correct breaches

Published:Sunday | September 11, 2016 | 9:00 AMClaudia Gardner
McKenzie

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says the Hanover Parish Council has been successful in putting satisfactory mechanisms in place to remedy breaches in operations which were discovered during an audit of the municipality he had ordered in May.

"The last time I came to the parish, issues came to the fore arising out of the findings of the Office of the Contractor General," said McKenzie, while addressing a parish clean-up sensitisation meeting in Lucea last Thursday.

"Officers of the ministry came down and carried out an extensive audit of the parish council. I promised at the meeting that when the audit was completed I would come back to Hanover and tell you - not everything - but at least what we found and what is being done to correct them.

"There are aspects of the audit which I am not prepared to speak about ... there are aspects which relate to the Ministry of Finance ... there are aspects of an ongoing investigation which involve court matters with the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) that I will leave out," added McKenzie.

In May, McKenzie ordered an immediate investigation into the affairs of the council, after the OCG revealed that two councillors, Lloyd Hill, of the Sandy Bay division; and Anthony Walker, of the Cauldwell division, had recommended dozens of contracts valued at millions of dollars to family members and political affiliates. That revelation came on the heels of similar allegations against former mayor Shernet Haughton.

However, last Thursday McKenzie said improvements were made in at least three major areas of concern, following the completion of the audit and presentation of the findings to the mayor and the council's management team.

"The question of having a proper registry of properties owned by the parish council - the audit found that the system that existed could not give a clear indication of properties owned. That was something that was of grave concern ...," said McKenzie.

"The council was given some time to present a proper detailed report on that. I am pleased to advise tonight that they have complied and have provided the necessary information, and based on that aspect of the audit, we are satisfied with the progress they have made and we will continue to monitor that aspect," added McKenzie.

The local government minister further stated that the procedure for the awarding of contracts had also been addressed, but that more needs to be done.

"The manner in which contracts were awarded - where the checks and balances as it relates to these contracts left much to be desired, they still have a far way to go, but based on what has been done so far, we are comfortable and we are putting the necessary mechanisms to work, especially with the Roads and Works Department," continued McKenzie.

"The third aspect is one that we were concerned about because it speaks to the management style of the council. And we believe that for a council to work and to operate effectively, then the system of management must be at a point where you are comfortable. We are satisfied that the Hanover Parish Council has taken, and is still taking, the necessary steps to comply with all aspects of the audit," said McKenzie.