Council more efficient with new automated system

Monday, 20 September 2010

A visit to Hargeisa Municipal offices in Somaliland captures ones attention. As you enter through the door, you jostle with revenue collection clerks bringing returns, businessmen coming to verify their tax records, councilors tracking some claims, and accounts officials searching for records, while the data entry clerks are glued to the systems either conducting data entry, verifying or retrieving records. Indeed, things have changed greatly thanks to the Automated Information Management Systems (AIMS).

According to Mohammed Ahmed Mireh, a local council official, the Automated Information Management Systems should be adopted by all municipalities within Somaliland for efficiency.

“We make daily records of revenues and expenditure. The system is easy to use. Whenever the accountants or the mayor requires a report, we are able to provide it quickly”.

Before the installation of the system, it would take us days and even weeks to locate a record or compile a financial report. Such reports are now generated automatically from the new computerized system.

“The system has also reduced operational space in the office. Prior to installation of the system, bulky records occupied huge space. We now make accurate and timely weekly, bi weekly and monthly revenue and expenditure comparisons. Nowadays, data entry and verification takes less time. Further, we can detect loopholes in tax collection. This has enhanced accountability”, explains Mireh.

The same sentiments are expressed by Zainab Rashid, an expenditure clerk: “In the past, it was laborious to update records, conduct fast access and retrievals; and it was not easy to make quick comparisons and reconciliations. Now, we take a very short time to retrieve records and perform reconciliations. I am motivated since the introduction of the new system.”

For a long time, inefficiency has been part of the councils in relation to funds management, arising from the lack of effective control systems. Record keeping and reports generation not only was cumbersome but time consuming.

The automation system was introduced by UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery (JPLG) through UNHABITAT. UNHABITAT initiated this system in collaboration with Terre Solidali, a local NGO. The system aim to help local councils to better manage revenue and expenditure and facilitate better generation of reports. This in turn enhances efficiency, transparency and accountability.

“We used more than four ledger books; we now have a computer system that performs and simplifies what used to be a cumbersome work. Our quality of reports has improved and the council is happy with our level of efficiency. However, we still maintain manual copies of transactions by the ministry of interior since we are in a transition from one system to another, and the government has not yet fully approved the operationalization of the system across municipalities”, explains Mr. Awil Omar, the Finance Director of Berbera Municipal Council.

The new Minister of Interior Dr. Mohammed Abdi Gabose feels the council has taken a huge step towards delivery of services and the experience is a learning point for the government.

“The municipality is way ahead of the ministries and this is something that should be emulated if efficiency and effectiveness have to be realized in management of ministry operations.”

The Joint Programme on Local Governance and Service Delivery is a partnership of five UN agencies (ILO, UNHABITAT, UNCDF, UNDP, UNICEF) working together to promote good governance and decentralized service delivery in Somalia. The programme is implemented with funding from the EC, DFID, USAID, SIDA, ITALY, NORWAY and DANIDA.

                                             

                                                  Hodan  Community Centre