Apr 27, 2018 News
By Kiana Wilburg
The prayers of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have finally been answered. The Coalition Administration has taken the historic step to have the names of delinquent financial officers published in the Auditor General’s annual reports as well as have them surcharged for overpayments they signed off on for contracts.
The consequential move by the Government is part of its Treasury Memorandum, which was laid in the National Assembly yesterday by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.
The Memorandum serves to respond to the queries and recommendations in the Public Accounts Committee Report for the years 2010 and 2011. The document says that the government recognizes the references made by the PAC in relation to waste, abuse and mismanagement of public resources as well as the lack of fiscal transparency, accountability, discipline and full compliance with various financial laws.
With this said, the Government said that attention was given to the recommendations of the PAC and the necessary steps would be taken to implement as many as possible.
As it relates to the issue of overpayments on contracts, the Government said it remains cognizant of the need to improve the procurement practices with a view to having value for money.
It said, “Government has apprised Heads of Budget Agencies of the Auditor General’s concerns and has invited the Auditor General as an advisor to its meeting with the Heads of Budget Agencies at which he reiterated his concerns.
“Circulars have been issued to instruct Heads to refrain from such practices if they do, and to inform them that not doing so would be in violation of Sections 10, 15 and 85 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.”
The Government said that it continues to take such violations seriously and has taken other measures to address the matter.
In this regard, it noted that it will continue to monitor continuously, contracts across agencies as well as the unmitigated resoluteness by the PAC when dealing with agencies that did not set up procedures in the execution of contractual works.
The Government intends to hold meetings involving PAC, the Finance Secretary, Accountant General and the Auditor General with a view to discussing and arriving at decisive strategies aimed at enforcing protection mechanisms as well as the institution of disciplinary action against defaulters.
There will also be employed engineers and established field audits to give the necessary technical capabilities and oversight. Officers will also be required to give detailed reports when signing off on works. These reports are now expected to include photographic evidence before, during and on completion of projects.
Government has also moved towards the development and implementation of a policy intended to address the prompt application of insurance and performance bond.
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