Anaham misses financial transparency deadline but plans to comply chief says

Anaham misses financial transparency act deadline but plans to comply, Chief Joe Alphonse said.

Anaham (Tl’etinqox) First Nation one hour west of Williams Lake did not meet the Nov. 26 deadline to publish its audited financial information, however, Chief Joe Alphonse told the Tribune Wednesday they will be submitted, hopefully within the next few days.

So far 529 of 582 First Nations have published financial documents under the act, including all other Tsilhqot’in and Shuswap communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin.

Under the First Nations Transparency Act, approved by parliament in March 2013, First Nations to whom the act applies, are required to make audited consolidated financial statements and the Schedule of Remuneration and Expenses available to their community members.

They must post and publish the financial documents on a website of their own and make them available on the Aboriginal Affairs website.

Anaham has had delays in reporting its financials this year because of staff members leaving for family reasons, Alphonse said.

Efforts by the band to hire an accountant have not been successful so as a last resort Anaham recently submitted its books to an accounting firm in Williams Lake.

Despite the delay in meeting the deadline, Alphonse said he believes every elected person should have to disclose all salaries and expenses.

“I strongly support the act, but think it should happen even without the transparency act,” he added.

Anaham is one of the larger Tsilhqot’in communities with an annual budget hovering around $12 million.

Alphonse said the community requires a full-time accountant and assistant bookkeepers.

On Thursday the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Bernard Valcourt, under the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA), publishing the financial documents provides First Nations community members with more transparent and accountable governance and in turn helps to ensure band revenues are being used for their benefit.

“The Act applies the same principles of transparency and accountability to First Nation governments that already exist for other governments in Canada and also helps to empower any person, including First Nation members, to hold governments accountable by seeking a Court Order for the publication of documents if the requirements of the Act are not fulfilled,” Valcourt said in an issued statement.

With regards to non-compliant First Nations, Valcourt said at this time government will be taking action according to the provisions of the law which will include: withholding funding for non-essential programs, services and activities; withholding of new or proposal-based non-essential program funding, publishing the names of all non-compliant First Nations on the AANDC website and in the case of those First Nations who have indicated they have no intention of complying, seeking court orders to require publication.

 

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