Financial reporting as a tool for promoting accountability at Metsimaholo Local Municipality
Notsi, Palesa Yvonne
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Sound financial management is a growing concept in the public sector, especially in local government. The South African government has put in place policies and mechanisms to create a conducive environment for municipalities to manage finances in an effective manner. The management of municipal finance is supported by a set of policies and regulations to strengthen the use of public money. Among the respective policy frameworks, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa expects the government entities to be transparent and accountable. Here in, these financial measures are also guided by the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 and the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999 (as amended 29 of 1999). Measured transparency is critically important for management public funds. Accountability is an essential element in achieving institutional goals, especially where public funds are used. Accountability allows public institutions to provide assurance to the tax payers and to their principals. The Auditor General expects municipalities to be accountable for their financial activities through regular reporting. The Annual Report will therefore be compiled for reporting and it must include all required information. Audit Committee becomes very critical, as a structure established to guide the municipality on finances and ensure that the report is credible in every respect. Metsimaholo municipality has however been facing challenges as per the opinions of the Auditor General based on financial reporting, amongst other things. This study involves the extent to which financial reporting serves as a tool for promoting accountability. In order to test the hypothesis, literature was reviewed to analyse and evaluate financial reporting and accountability. Empirical research was conducted to test and analyse the existence of practices, procedures and policies that promote sound financial management and their effectiveness. Data was collected through questionnaires and face to face structured and unstructured interviews, with respondents from employees of Metsimaholo Local Municipality and community structures. This study found among others that: *Policies for financial reporting exist but are not fully complied with *There is a lack of follow up with and implementation of Auditor General’s recommendations *Audit Committee recommendations are not fully implemented *There are no clear lines of responsibilities between councillors and officials with regard to financial management The study concludes with recommendations to assist the municipality in committing themselves to adopt strategies towards financial reporting for improved accountability.