BY JARED KOLI
With Government facing a cash-flow problem and tight revenue collection, there is no one to monitor how government is spending its money. And, the Opposition wants to know why.
Leader of Opposition Matthew Wale is questioning Government over the long delay in filling up the position of Auditor General, which has been vacant since March this year.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s Motion of Special Adjournment in the floor of Parliament yesterday, Mr Wale called for immediate action.
He said the position is established by Section 108 of the Constitution as an independent office mandated to audit public accounts and monitor government finance related activities.
He adds that the independency of that office means only a substantive holder of the position can appoint other persons to carry out the functions of the office.
Wale said the ongoing absence of a substantive Auditor General raises questions on the authority of that office to discharge its functions especially under present circumstances where the government is operating under a state of emergency framework.
“This is a matter of great public concern. With drops in government revenue it is of paramount importance that government expenditure is tightly monitored so that spending is focussed only in areas that really matter.
“The ongoing delay surely is not helping in this regard, and I therefore call on the responsible authorities to speed up the process and to have the position filled at the earliest,” says Wale.
As a result of the lack of an Auditor General, there is no one to sign off on audit reports on all financial statements of public sector entities at the moment.
Former Auditor General, Peter Lokay’s contract ended in March this year.
Deputy Auditor General, Rachel McKechnie had earlier said auditing on financial statements are still ongoing, however there is no Auditor General to provide a final opinion whether it is true or fair.
According to Section 108 (2) of the National Constitution, the Auditor-General shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.
Chairman of Public Service Commission, Milner Tozaka said the position has already been advertised, with one candidate most likely to take the job.
Tozaka said now it is up to the Public Service ministry to decide when the person should take up the post.
He said at the moment he cannot name the chosen candidate because the Public Service is still to make a decision.
One of the aims of the Auditor General is to produce reliable and persuasive reports on the performance of public sector activities that aim to generate significant improvements in public sector administration.
The primary output of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is audit reports – to the National Parliament, the nine Provincial Assemblies, the Honiara City Council and the various Boards of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and Statutory Authorities (SAs).
The Office also produces Special Audit Reports which are provided to the requesting government agencies when it is believed that the topic is of importance for the general governance of the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) or in the public interest.
In addition, the OAG also undertakes efficiency audits of government programmes or operations (known as Performance Audits) which are also reported to the National Parliament.