25 July 2001
The Auditor General, Mr Joseph G. Galea, has submitted the Report "Performance Audit Countryside Section" to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Countryside Section is responsible for the embellishment, development and maintaining of countryside areas, country parks, nature reserves and conservation areas, waterways and valleys. As at November 2000, the Countryside Section employed 163 personnel. During 1999 and 2000, the financial years covered by the Report, expenditure incurred amounted to Lm660,300 and Lm823,199 respectively.
This audit sought to evaluate whether the rubble wall building and cleaning functions performed by the Countryside Section were performed in an efficient manner and contributed towards environmental preservation and embellishment.
Management was found to lack official, procedural documentation and communication systems, with the result that the section was not in a position to allocate resources in an optimal manner. The absence of an adequate management set-up impinged on productivity. Moreover, lack of approach to project management diminished internal controls and accountability.
A random sample of rubble wall building and cleaning jobs performed during 1999 and 2000 revealed that productivity in the jobs was below productivity benchmarks. However it is noted that the newly established Environment Development Management Section considered that the benchmarks relating to rubble wall building were optimistic.
The piecework and concession approaches, adopted by the Section enabling personnel to log-off before days end, were not authorised by the Office of the Prime Minister. Both schemes remained operative even though productivity levels were low.
Lack of co-ordination with other Governmental entities performing similar duties resulted in an overlap of roles. In some instances, illegal dumping of waste spoiled recently cleaned or embellished areas.
On 1 January 2001, the Ministry for the Environment transferred the
Countryside Section, together with other four units, to the newly established
Environmental Development and Planning Section. The reorganisation of
the section is a positive step since it should enhance co-operation
between units engaged in environmental works.