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NAM says Auditor General has powers to surcharge officials who mismanaged funds

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By Omar Bah

The National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum has said the Auditor General has all the powers clearly defined by the Constitution to surcharge officials found wanting of financial mismanagement.

Last year, the National Audit Office complained to the National Assembly members over the lack of clarity in its mandate to levy surcharges.

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The Auditor General had argued there is need for a clear procedure on how to execute such powers.

But speaking on the matter in a Standard exclusive  Wednesday on the side lines of a media training on parliamentary proceedings organised by Westminster Foundation, Hon. Alagie Mbowe said: “I know what the AG is talking but I still firmly believe that he has all the powers to surcharge. If you look at section 160 subsection 2 of the Constitution, you will find that in the exercise of his/her function, the Auditor General Shall have power to disallow any item of expense which is contrary to law and to surcharge. I think the Constitution is very clear – it is telling the Auditor General that the person who caused that loss to the state should be charged a surcharge. If somebody made the government lose, let’s say D10, 000, I expect the person to pay back that D10, 000. I don’t think there is any other law that is necessary right now unless he (Auditor General) wants to come up with a regulation to tell everybody that if you cause a loss to the state you are going to pay the amount plus a penalty or whatever. But as far as the Constitution is concerned, he has all the powers to surcharge,” Hon Mbowe added.

He explained that “Section 160 subsection 5 states that wherever discrepancy of a criminal or fraudulent nature are discovered during the audit of any accounts by the Auditor General, he/she shall immediately cause a report of his/her findings to be submitted to the Inspector General of Police for investigation and prosecution. Again, as far as this section is concern, he/she doesn’t need to wait for the National Assembly,” Hon Mbowe said.

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