In our article of 9 April 2018, we had urged the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) “to continue its efforts to bring its examination of the public accounts up-to-date and to impress upon the Administration the importance of having all the actions contained in the BTAP (Budget Transparency Action Plan) undertaken with expedition, especially as they relate to the accountability timeframe”. We stated that until these are achieved, coupled with appropriate sanctions for violations, we cannot assure ourselves that a strong and effective system of public accountability is in place to safeguard public funds and other resources of the State.
We made the above assessment in the context of the previous Administration’s failure to fully and properly discharge its stewardship and accountability responsibilities since 2011, as no Treasury Memorandum was issued for the years 2012 to 2014, setting out what actions the Government has taken or intends to take in relation to the findings and recommendations of the PAC. To compound matters, the quality of financial reporting over the years, as attested to by the Auditor General in his certification of the public accounts, has left much to be desired. As a result, the findings and recommendations of the Auditor General continue to repeat themselves year after year, as observed by the PAC in its 2000-2001 report.
We attributed blame entirely on the accumulated failure of successive PACs to bring their examination of the public accounts up-to-date and we were at pains to point out in previous columns that the public accountability process does not cease when audited accounts are produced. The timely deliberation on those accounts by the Legislature and the response from the Executive are indispensable elements in the accountability cycle in seeking to hold governments to account for the use of scarce public resources in the delivery of public services, as approved by the Legislature…..