GN must watch Iqaluit like a hawk

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

It was reassuring to hear Manitok Thompson, the minister of community government, tell the public this week that her department will closely monitor the $31 million that the GN will give the City of Iqaluit over the next five years.

Within Iqaluit’s municipal government, there is a long history of financial and administrative ineptitude and dishonesty, especially with regard to the use and misuse of territorial government money. The least that the government of Nunavut can do is to assure the people of Nunavut that their money will be managed well.

The most recent example is the well-known sewage treatment plant fiasco, in which more than $7 million, most of it territorial government money, has thus far been wasted. The city now says that the plant, which was supposed to be up and running in 1999, will be working by 2007 — after the city sinks another $4.1 million into it.

Many residents will also remember when, in 1994, the Government of the Northwest Territories used its powers under the Municipal Act to fire Iqaluit’s mayor, senior administrative officer, and all eight councillors. The Municipality of Iqaluit had misused $9 million worth of grant money that it was supposed to give back to the government after negotiating debentures.

Afterwards, territorial government reports and audits showed that Iqaluit’s elected councillors were not being provided with accurate information about the municipality’s financial position, and that the municipality’s record-keeping and financial reporting habits were poor.

If it can happen once, it can happen again. There is constant turnover at the top of Iqaluit’s municial administration, and there is no guarantee that over the next five years, Iqaluit will have the capacity to manage the financial obligations that it’s proposing to take on.

The GN should do more than just “monitor.” If necessary they should interfere, no matter how loudly the City of Iqaluit may whine about it.

JB

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