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Everald Warmington has been relentlessly seeking from the Ministry of Finance, an audit report on the financial dealings by the Auditor General’s Department for the past ten years. None of the Ministers of Finance obliged him. At long last, the current Minister of Finance, Dr. Nigel Clarke agreed to table the report and has done so for the fiscal years 2016 – 17 and 2017 – 18. However, having received the reports, the Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives is not satisfied.
Welcome the Tabling of the Reports, But…
Mr. Warmington acknowledged in the House that the move by the Finance Minister to table the reports for the two years is a welcome sign, especially since 4 FMs before Dr. Clarke had not done so. However, he felt that what has been submitted is not what he had in mind as this does not cover the details of the expenditures incurred by the AGD’s office. The financial statements are found missing as well. He feels the Ministry of Finance has just compiled an internal report certifying the appropriation accounts. He continued to insist that he had been demanding an audit of the AGD’s office for the past 10 years.
Dr. Clarke Responds; Requires Amendment in Statute
Responding to the demand by the Deputy Leader for an external agency to audit the Auditor General’s Department, Minister of Finance, Dr. Nigel Clarke said what the opposition leader wants to be done can only be carried out if an amendment is made by the Parliament to the existing law on the matter. The Financial Accounts and Audit Act 2010, as amended, is now being followed. It was under this Act that the Finance Ministry is required to undertake a scrutiny of the accounts maintained by the AGD’s office and table a report in the House, which has been completed. The Minister said there is no provision to allow any external agency to undertake an audit of the books of the AGD’s office.
The conflict inherent within this existing arrangement, however, cannot be ignored.The AGD audits the Finance Ministry and the Finance Ministry later audits the AGD.