Entering the busy Hargeisa Municipal Finance offices, visitors jostle with revenue collection clerks bringing returns, businessmen coming to verify their tax records, councillors tracking claims, accounts officials searching for records, and data entry clerks busy at their stations.
During a recent visit, the new Minister of Interior, Dr. Mohammed Abdi Gabose, noted that 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 the management of ministry operations”.
Mohammed Ahmed Mireh, the council municipal finance revenue clerk, explained the new technology the minister was referring to, known as Automated Information Management Systems (AIMS): “We make daily records of revenues and expenditure, and the system is quite simple to use. Whenever the accountants or the mayor require a report, we are able to provide it quickly. Before, it would take us days or 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: records used to occupy a huge space. More importantly, data entry and verification are less time consuming.”
Zainab Rashid, expenditure clerk, continued, “In the past, it was laborious to update records; it was not easy to make quick comparisons and reconciliations. Now, we take a very short time. I feel more motivated and satisfied with my work since the introduction of the new system.”
Awil Omar, the finance director of Berbera Municipal Council, was also excited about the system: “We used to have more than four ledger books; thanks to AIMS, we now have a computer system that performs and simplifies what used to be cumbersome work. Our quality of reports has improved, and the council is happy with our level of efficiency. However, we are required by the Ministry of Interior to maintain the manual copies of transactions, which we feel is double work. We were told that the two systems are being maintained because we are in a transition period from one system to another, and the government has not yet fully approved the operationalization of the new system across municipalities.”
For a long time, local councils’ management of funds was inefficient because they lacked effective control systems. AIMS, which was first initiated in 2008 under the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery and carried out by UN-HABITAT in collaboration with the NGO Terre Solidali, was conceived to help the councils better manage revenue and expenditure and improve reporting – thus enhancing efficiency, transparency, and accountability.