The 2018 Auditor General report being leaked to the media seems to be causing some distress to the Coalition. Junior minister within MOPI, Jaipaul Sharma, and GRA’s boss, Godfrey Statia, were swift to respond. Sharma said, “The Auditor General needs to explain how is it that the 2018 Auditor General Report that is not yet a public document is being used by some for electioneering purposes to highlight the negative findings of the Auditor General on government projects.”
Statia spoke of a “breach of confidentiality” and “slackness” on the part of the AG- as if the man was tried in a court and found guilty of disclosing the report. If governing politicians were to be granted free will, the first thing they will probably do is to get rid of the office of the Auditor General. Statia should be aware that the AG work on behalf of the people and not the government.
The constitutional enactment of the Auditor General’s office was intended to provide a yearly report to the citizens with information on how well their tax dollars are being collected, spent and accounted for and to act as a deterrent to government’s from deviating from accountable norms and squandermania. Constitutionally, it is only by elections that the citizens are empowered to remove governments, the AG’s yearly report should be the most important guide to citizens in making their choice of government, when the opportunity (elections) comes around. Why should Sharma be so peeved about information intended for the citizens-getting to the citizens? While Sharma seems to see some form of criminality in the AG report being leaked before becoming a public document by the blessings of being “laid before parliament”, I do not recall Sharma calling on his government to accept the passing of the NCM after a debate and vote in parliament over a year ago.
Obviously, a “debate and vote” is superior to being” laid before parliament”. Sharma being an MP, should have no problem visualizing that it was his government’s filibustering on the requirements of the NCM that resulted in parliament ending in a stalemate before dissolution- that should not deny the public the right to access the information on the AG’s report.
The report itself has revealed that over $800M in payment vouchers from ministries and other state entities were not produced to state auditors for verification and a host of other discrepancies – a damning picturesque portrait of the Coalition’s performance.
The public has a right to the information embedded in the AG’s report to make informed choices as elections approaches.