-Constantly brings his autonomy into question-PAC Chairman
In spite of legislative changes made some years ago to the Constitution to improve financial management of accounts, and to make the Auditor General’s (AG) office an independent entity, members of the political opposition are of the view that no significant change has been made by the AG’s Office since then.
At a press conference, the details of which are published on the website of the Ministry of Finance, it was said that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, had said that internal audits can increase efficiency and competitiveness of entities.
According to the website, the Minister of Finance had said that the Constitution was strengthened and systems implemented to cater for the oversight of the Auditor General’s office by the establishment of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which also oversaw the operations of Government Departments, and fiscal and procurement policies.
But the head of this very Committee, Carl Greenidge, said that when one questions how effective these legislative changes were made, “It can be concluded that nothing of consequence was done.”
The PAC Chairman said that what was done in 2012 was that the Auditor General’s office was moved from being a budgetary agency. He said that there are aspects of the audit department that continue to remain of much concern to members of the Public Accounts Committee.
The Parliamentarian said that in spite of the changes to make the entity more autonomous, the failure of the Auditor General to effectively use his power puts the “independence” of his office up for much questioning.
The Shadow Minister of Finance said that it is an issue that has not been resolved to this date.
He said, “There have been no significant improvements or changes with regard to the Auditor General’s Office. Questions of recruitment still remain unanswered and these are matters that are of concern to the Public Accounts Committee.”
He continued, “The Departments of the Auditor General’s Office do not do enough and the Agency which is headed by Mr. Deodat Sharma does not exercise effectively the power it has.
“As an auditor you can, when you find a problem with the accounts of an agency, report them for not reporting on time and cite them for breaking the law.”
“You cannot leave it for the Public Accounts Committee to deal with when in fact it is in the power of the department to deal with the problem.
“The Committee does not need to be in half of the things that come before us from the Auditor General’s department. They don’t do enough on that front. There are lots of infringements but rather than using its power they just see it as a matter to be reported.
“The legislative changes that were referred to by the Minister of Finance in 2012 have been limited to the removal to the list of budgetary agencies and that alone has to do with how it gets its money and not how efficiently the department works.”
Calls to the AG to comment on the effective use of the power of his office proved futile.
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