P.M. rejects Audit Reports delay claim

“What delay?” 

That is the response from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, when he was asked about why it has taken so long for Parliament to table and discuss Audit Reports from Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, for the past seven years.

During an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Prime Minister Tuilaepa insisted there is no delay whatsoever. 

Rather he said the Reports are being channeled through the usual Parliamentary process.

For instance, he said the Controller and Auditor General Fuimaono has been corresponding with the Ministries and government bodies concerned about the reports.

He then elaborated on the process when Audit Reports are submitted to Parliament. 

“Once it’s (audit reports) delivered to the respective Parliament Committees, they review it,” he said. 

“Afterwards, the Auditor and government bodies are summoned to come before the Committee and discuss their Audit reports." 

“After the reviews of the Audit reports, an analysis is drafted with recommendations. It is then and there the Audit Reports are brought before Parliament for discussion.” 

According to the Prime Minister, the respective Committees have asked for more time to review the Audit Reports. 

“That is why time was extended for the committees to go through their reports,” he said. 

“So what delayed reports?" 

“Audit reports cannot be drafted unless the Departments and Ministries reports for public accounts are submitted to the Auditor." 

“That is the process in Parliament, in terms of reports.”

Tuilaepa said things have changed a lot in terms of the process.

 “Back in those days, there was not really any deliberation on the reports,” he said.

“That was 20 years ago. At that time there was only two committees and that has changed."

“We have created more committees to review the Audit Reports and this has allowed them time to review it thoroughly.”

Last month, Controller and Auditor General Fuimaono Camillo Afele wrote to the Constitutional Officers, Parliament Officers, Chief Executive Officers of Ministries and Chairpersons of Board advising them the Audit Office is compiling a Report to Parliament on audits and assessments conducted for the period of July 2016 to June 2017. 

A copy of the letter obtained by the Sunday Samoan indicated that the audit work is near completion. 

“However normal practice that the relevant extracts are given to auditees for final comments and clarifications including an update on remedial and corrective actions taken”. 

Fuimaono in his letter pointed out “the draft reports of the organizations and areas of responsibility and extracts, I believe, have been discussed with yourselves when the audits were completed." 

“We appreciate receiving comments/clarifications including an update on remedial and corrective actions taken by 5 January, 2018 to allow for translation, printing, final edits and submission to the Honorable Speaker by the end of March 2018.”

In December 2017, Fuimaono wrote to the Samoa Observer saying he and his staff were called before the Finance and the Expenditure Committee (F.E.C.) of Parliament to assist with the Parliamentary examination and scrutiny of the Public Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2016.

“For your information, the preparation and compilation of the Public Accounts is the responsibility of the Chief Executive and Ministry of Finance,” he wrote. 

“It is the responsibility of the Audit Office to audit the Public Accounts." 

“All Public Accounts since my appointment in 2010 which is 7 years now have been audited up to financial year ended 30 June 2016." 

“The Public Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2017 are currently being audited to be completed by January 2018." 

“The submission of the Audited Public Accounts to Parliament through the Speaker of Parliament is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance." 

“The Public Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2016 was submitted by the Minister of Finance to the Honourable Speaker of Parliament on the 20th June 2017 and tabled by the Honourable Speaker in Parliament on the 13th November 2017,” he pointed out." 

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