Audit Office wants to levy surcharges

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By Omar Bah

The National Audit Office has complained to the National Assembly over the lack of clarity in its mandate to levy surcharges.

Addressing an orientation workshop on the relationship between the National Audit Office and the parliament on Saturday, Auditor General Karamba Touray said the Constitution has given his office the power to levy surcharges but “it has not explained how”.

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“We need clear procedure on how to execute our surcharge powers,” AG Touray told lawmakers.

He said the prime role of his department is to fulfil its financial auditing function to provide assurance that a government’s financial statements fairly reflect the revenues collected and expenditure incurred.

“It is not sufficient for audit institutions to identify errors, possible fraud or examples of poor financial management but that it is also necessary to identify ways to ensure that their findings are acted upon by the executive,” he said.

He said audit institutions are the only source of reliable information on the government’s efficiency and effectiveness available to the public.

“We pursue communication of information to public authorities and the general public through the publication of objective reports, development of sound financial management, proper execution of administrative activities and proper and effective use of public funds,” he said.

Addressing the theme of the workshop, AG Touray said the legislature through its Parliamentary Audit Committees should play an important role in enforcing audit findings and recommendations.

“These two important, but separate institutions have mutually supportive roles in ensuring effective governance. Parliament can perform its vital oversight functions most effectively when it uses and can rely on audited works. Similarly, audit institutions could be more effective when parliament provides both a forum for the presentation and discussion of its reports and making and enforcing recommendations for implementation,” he added.

Members of the Finance & Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees who attended the meeting have assured the AG of the National Assembly’s commitment to work closely with his office to keep the executive in check.