In the Independent State of Samoa, the law governing the role of the Controller and Auditor General, is quite clear.
It says the “Controller and Chief Auditor may conduct a yearly audit report on any examination or investigation” that he finds appropriate, and necessary.
Such reports are about matters of public importance, the law also says, which is why the Chief Auditor is tasked with the job of preparing them on an annual basis, and then have them presented to Parliament to peruse and then debate.
Over the last twelve years, four such reports had been put together by the Office of the Controller and Chief Auditor, and subsequently they were tabled in Parliament, on:
1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009;
1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010;
1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011;
1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.
So the questions now are: Why four? What about the other eight years? Was there nothing that required any “examination or investigation” during all those other years?
We don’t know.
All we can say is that perhaps the Controller and Chief Auditor, during all that time, had neither seen nor heard anything unusual that might have warranted “an examination and an investigation” then.
In fact, all we know is that the Controller and Chief Auditor is now duty-bound to submit all those reports to the Speaker of Parliament, who in turn will present it to the Legislative Assembly for discussion and debate.
As for the law, it is also pretty clear that before submitting such a report to Mr Speaker, the Controller and Chief Auditor “must provide a summary of it to the Prime Minister,” as well as an “accountable authority or related entity of a public body, and any other person who, in the Controller’s opinion, has a special interest in the audit report.”
Incidentally, the inclusion of the words “Prime Minister” in the law pertaining to the functions of the Controller and Chief Auditor, might have been quite appropriate at the time, come to think of it.
Indeed, there would have been no doubt in anyone’s mind then that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, was clearly the “fulcrum on which the wheel was turning at the time”, and as we can all see he is continuing to do so quite wonderfully today.
Now let’s listen as the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Papali’i C. G. Afele, is presenting his Office’s Report for the year July 2011 to June 2012, to the Home of the Legislative Assembly, of the Independent State of Samoa.
Afioga La`aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Honourable Speaker of the House of the Legislative Assembly,
Independent State of Samoa
Dear Mr. Speaker,
Report to Parliament on the Operations of the Samoa Audit Office - July 2011 to June 2012
In compliance with Article 98 of the Constitution of the Independent State of Samoa 1960 and Section 42 of the Audit Act 2013, I respectfully submit to you, for transmission to the Legislative Assembly of Samoa and for tabling in the next Parliament session, my Report on the Operations of the Samoa Audit Office for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.
This is my fourth report to Parliament since my initial appointment in late September 2010. This report is on the operations of the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General (OCAG) and the results of audits and other assignments completed by the Office between July 2011 and June 2012. OCAG is also known as the Samoa Audit Office (SAO).
The report on irregularities submitted from Government Ministries and Constitutional Offices have been completed separately and will also be submitted separately to the Legislative Assembly.
This period is the first year of application or roll-out of Institutional Strengthening Project (ISP) reforms. It continued the legislative amendment process as well as the population of the new organisational structure increasing staff capacity from 50 before the ISP to 60 after the ISP.
A summary of the achievements of the ISP as well as the foundation and vision of the ISP will be covered in the report to parliament for the period July 2013 to June 2014. Suffice to say that during this year (2011/12), a submission was made to Cabinet to consider and decide on the audit bills and constitutional amendment bill for presentation to Parliament.
This was the culmination of various consultations with the Office of the Attorney General after the ISP to polish the Bills into perfection as well as wide consultations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General with other stakeholders.
Another ISP reform still outstanding at the end of the ISP was the population of the new organisational structure or staff capacity to prepare for the execution of new audit functions and strengthening of existing audit functions. A total of 26 interviews were made for new positions and the recruitments continued onto financial year 2012/13 aiming to fill the capacity approved in the ISP of 60 staff by 30 June 2013.
During financial year 2011/12, work also started to respond to calls for additional capacity building projects or programs from the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institution (INTOSAI) as well as the Public Finance Management Reform Plan Phase II of the Government of Samoa (PFMRII).
The INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) on the donor funding strategy for capacity building started to take shape in 2010 at the INTOSAI Meeting in South Africa.
This meeting followed on from consultations in Washington D.C. that the Controller and Auditor-General attended. In addition, there were global-wide stakeholders consultations by INTOSAI in 2010 through emails and questionnaires. The INTOSAI and PFMRII activities are currently being progressed, and coverage of the results should be available in future reports.
Furthermore, the Samoa Audit Office hosted a study by the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) on Accountability and Transparency in the Pacific. This study consulted a number of stakeholders in Samoa within the executive government, parliament, private sector and civil society including the media.
Finally the financial year 2011/12 also saw a restructure in the outputs of OCAG in the Government’s budget from four to three outputs aligning with the new structure as well as the submission to the Speaker of the Report of OCAG for the period July 2009 – June 2010.
Fuimaono Papali’i C. G.
Controller and Chief Auditor-General.
In his office’s report though, on the Ministry of Works, Transport & Infrastructure, it was reported that certain discrepancies had been discovered, during the period covered by the audit, 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2011,
The reports, as they turned out, revealed that the new Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (TATTE) Building, on Beach Road was having furnishing problems, with one of its new offices.
According to the reports, “new assets have already been purchased for the purpose of furnishing the new office at the TATTE Building, and yet it was later discovered that the new office was fully furnished.
“That way corrective action was undertaken, since there was no need to purchase any new furniture, and procurement was therefore discontinued.”
In addition, “Audit noted the high consumption and frequent re-ordering of stationeries, ink and toners for photocopier machines and printers.”
Also, “Audit was not able to verify the existence of various fixed assets according to their allocated locations referred to in the Fixed Assets Register, as there was no record to confirm the transfer of these assets within the Ministry.”
Still, the question that is causing so much confusion today, is this: Where is Fuimaono Papali’i C. G. Afele?
Is he still this country’s Controller and Chief Auditor?
And if so, why is it that the eight reports to Parliament on the Operations of the Audit Office, as well as the eight reports to Parliament on Irregularities have not been submitted, tabled, and debated in Parliament as they are required by law?
It would be good to know.