Weekly Commentaries

This is Sunday Chronicle's weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

PNG Auditor General disclaiming public accounts


BY ROBERT PALME 

DISCLAIMING and refusing to certify the Public Accounts of the Government by the Auditor General is a serious national failure. 

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said this in its report titled, "The Public Accounts Committee Report on the Inquiry into the keeping of the Government Trust Accounts for the Financial Years 2000-2008" in Parliament last Month.
 
The PAC attributed the disclaiming and refusing to certify the Public Accounts of the Government to gross mismanagement of the trust accounts by the trustees.
 
The PAC said it has found serious continuous breaches of the Public Finance (Management) Act 1995 by trustees and officers of relevant departments, provincial and local level governments and all agencies of government in trust account management and accounting.
 
The executive summary reads, "The Committee has found serious continuous breaches of the requirements of trust instruments by trustees at all levels of government;
 
"Monies in trust accounts may not have been spent appropriately and for purposes set out in the trust instrument."
 
The PAC also found that political interferences and intermeddling in trustees appointment and discretion has resulted in misuse and lack of accountability in every year since 2000.
 
It was also found that trustees have failed in their obligation to ensure that payments were made only for properly completed work and paper accounts and records have not been maintained and it has not been possible for the Committee to confirm the validity of payments from trust accounts.
 
"It is not possible to audit trust accounts properly or at all in any department or agency of Government because there are virtually no accounts or records.
 
"This failure of trust accountability and recording has resulted in the Auditor General disclaiming and refusing to certify the Public Accounts of the Government for the years 2004-2006," the PAC said.
The report says that failure to obey the law and a failure to account at all for public monies is evident at every level of administration that deals with or administers Trust accounts.
 
The PAC also said negligence and reckless disregard for the requirements of law and the duties of a trustee characterized many transactions into and out of trust accounts.
 
According to the PAC the Department of Finance and Treasury and the relevant Provincial Governments from which the committee or the Auditor General sought assistance, failed to provide any or any adequate documentation or information to the Committee or the Auditor General.
 
Some of the findings the PAC highlighted are:
  • The evidence clearly shows that the trustees of trust accounts and heads of department's or agencies whose duty it was to maintain accounts and records failed or refused to fulfill their roles to any acceptable standard-including and, in particular, within the Department of Finance.
  • These failures were blatant and clearly the individuals concerned act (or fail to act) with impunity and immunity-never expecting to be called to account for their behavior.
  • Trustees failed to act lawfully, acted unlawfully, failed to act independently and did not begin to meet their obligations and duties in the management of Trust Accounts and the receipt to or expenditure of money from Trust Accounts.
  • Trust Accounts and trust funds have fallen into the control of incompetent persons who do not have the necessary personal qualities to act properly and lawfully as a Trustees or signatories.
  • Power of a trustee or signatory has, in some cases, been handed to persons who could not, by law, act as Trustees or hold delegations as signatories-including private citizens.
  • Unqualified and junior and unaccountable officers access to trust monies and trust accounts.

Meanwhile, the Committee said that the trust accounts should no longer be managed by the public service or government agencies at any level. 
 
For more information, go to the PAC website:  www//.parltcmts.gov.pg/index.html




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