Recently the media reported an unfortunate development leading to tension between the Secretary to the Treasury (ST) and the Auditor General, consequent to the ST being critical of the Auditor General of the critical reporting of the public sector.
TISL reminds the ST that the primary duty of a legislative and constitutional Auditor is to make a critical evaluation of public sector without fear or favor, and without interference from the public servants however high it may be.
For the last four years there is an improvement of the functions of the Auditor General and in fact many changes are likely with a new composite Audit Act. The call to make the Auditor General an officer of the legislature is being seriously addressed, in keeping with the good global practices. In the recent past, in the course of audits, the Auditor General was able to uncover huge irregularities such as VAT fraud in the Department of Inland Revenue. There does not seem to be any effective steps taken by the Finance Ministry in response to the Auditor General’s findings in regard to this matter. In all democracies, that value financial integrity, the public sector and in particular the heads of institutions consider the Auditor General as the messenger and the constitutional whistle blower whose comments are welcomed in order to improve the respective institutions. There is hardly any justification for the Secretaries or the heads of the institutions to whitewash a corrupt or weak institutional framework, when an auditor points out weaknesses. It is the duty of those responsible officers to put the system right rather than killing the messenger.
TISL views the approach of the ST as being unreasonable, amounting to unjustifiable interference with the constitutional legislative functions of the Auditor General, seriously undermining the financial integrity of the country. We urge the public, political parties and corporate sector to intervene and protect the Auditor General against any further moves by the Executive to undermine the position of the Auditor General.