Ngeremlengui State’s newly installed 10th government elected leaders attended Governance Clinic for Leaders yesterday at Ngeremlengui State, a training program aimed at strengthening local governance through greater transparency and accountability of work at State level.

The program, Local Governance Strengthening Project (LGSP), conducted by the Ministry of State under its Division of Domestic Affairs, seeks to “provide support during political transition at local level to promote understanding and adherence to both national and state constitutions.”

The program focuses on the need to “strengthen the importance of maintaining records, transparency and accountability of work throughout public sector.”

Ngeremlengui Governor Ilolang Mary Frances Remengesau, Speaker Ebil Tebelak, Delegate Swenny Ongidobel and members of Ngeremlengui legislature attended the 5-hour long workshop actively participating in discussions in context of their State operations.

Governor Ilolang Frances Remengesau shared her expectations of the workshop saying, “The outcome is so that we are all aware of what it takes to operate a state, to know our limits so we can talk to each other and prioritize and be accountable for many decisions we make, tabedesid.”

Presenters at the workshop included Minister Finance Elbuchel Sadang, Director of Budget & Planning Cashmir Remengesau and Public Auditor Saturnino Tewid to address topics such as Annual Performance Report, State Block Grants, Human Resources, Travel Policies and others.  Each presenter discussed reporting requirements reports and policies needed to aid in the transparency and accountability process.

Minister Sadang spoke of the national law requirements on State block grants.  He addressed the need to have personnel policies and travel policies in place to guide reporting and accountability.

Budget & Planning Director Cashmir Remengesau urged State leadership to put effort into Performance Reporting saying, “Performance Reporting is a way for you to tell people what you are doing and to justify and rationalize your request for funds.”  Performance Reporting which is required by the national government shows what specific programs or outcomes each state seeks to accomplish in particular year, their current status, challenges and outcomes.  The reports provide the national government an idea of the states’ priorities and needs during its preparation of a national annual budget.

Public Auditor Saturnino Tewid related some of the common shortcomings that state audits show and how to address issues in order to avoid questionable expenses.  “You need to have good policy in place in order to have good transparency,” explained Public Auditor Saturnino Tewid during his presentation on good governance.

Importance of having institutional memory was stressed by presenters.  Recommendations were made to have certain critical positions such as state treasurer to be a nonpolitical, civil service position in order to maintain institutional memory and ensure continuity and capacity at state level.

The Local Governance Strengthening Project (LGSP) under the Ministry of State started in 2016, targeting 5 states as pilot projects.  States were Ngeremlengui, Aimeliik, Melekeok, Hatohobei and Kayangel.  The key criteria for selection of the first 5 states was that they were newly installed governments in 2016.  In addition to leadership governance training, they also conducted community responsible government workshops. The program is finalizing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the five States on budget formulation and financial reporting.