Editorial

Tightening Internal Controls

We will not say that the four remaining years of the Philip J Pierre administration will be a walk in the park. After all, the administration’s first year, which ends later this month, was not an easy one, having to cope with COVID-19, the economic upheavals of the world’s economy due primarily to the conflict in Eastern Europe, and Saint Lucia’s own internal issues, with escalating gun violence being a major headache for the administration.

It is not that the administration is unprepared for the challenges, hence the reason why Saint Lucians, in July 2021, gave it the handsome majority it now enjoys in parliament.

After pointing out the failings of the previous administration during its 2016 – 2021 term in office, the Pierre administration had shown itself as willing and able to deal with the risks it claimed the previous administration had put Saint Lucia through.

Therefore, with one year almost gone and four more left to go, we hope that the present administration will do all that is necessary to mitigate the deteriorating economic situation in the country, which has pushed fuel prices at its current high, caused food prices to be on a continuous climb, affected employment opportunities and helped in spreading the tentacles of crime.

Risk will always be present whenever government conducts business. In fact, the public sector is faced with many risks; therefore,  we hope that the current administration understands that care must be taken to manage those risks to avoid wastage, manipulation, fraud, embezzlement and political fallout.

These are familiar words to the Pierre administration during the time they were in opposition, and when they held the reins of power between the years 2011 – 2016.

Therefore, we expect the administration to minimize risks to the point where such risks have minimal national consequences. From a local government level we hope that such risks do not have adverse consequences for local authorities.

As noted in the 2013 Review of Financial Operations of Town, Village and Rural Councils, “internal control is one of the principal means by which risk is managed. It is a set of practices and procedures put in place, sometimes referred to as the Internal Control System, to mitigate or reduce the risk of wastage, manipulation, fraud, embezzlement, non-adherence to rules and regulations and loss of reputation at acceptable cost.”

There is a general expectation that the present administration has this internal control mechanism in place in its many risk-taking endeavours. After all, were they not the ones who lambasted the previous administration for not dealing with internal control weaknesses during that administration’s term in government?

It is the responsibility of Cabinet, in formulating policies for the various ministries and departments of government, to put controls in place to ensure the efficient use of assets and their protection against loss, wastage, fraud and embezzlement, so that the State does not register a loss.

We all know of the losses the State, in recent years, has had to embrace, some of those losses in the millions of dollars.

We are pleased to note that the present administration has promised to do all in its power to tighten internal controls of government that need tightening, and minimize, if not, completely eliminate wastage and other ills in the public service and other echelons of government.

Saint Lucia has suffered from wastage and other ills in government as a result of many factors such as nepotism, poor leadership, greed, corruption and more. With four more years to go, all eyes will be on the present administration, with the hope that they deliver on not just putting people first, but on dealing with the ills in government to the satisfaction of the general population.

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