Commission proposes controller functions for auditor-general


THE Internal Revenue Commission has proposed that the auditor-general’s powers be widened to include controller functions.
The auditor-general, as a controller, would vet and clear transactions proposed outside budget for their fiscal implications much in the same way the state solicitor gave clearance on the legal details of such transactions.
Commissioner-general Sam Koim said when appearing at the Commission of Inquiry into the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) loan on Wednesday.
He said the UBS loan was one such transaction that was not featured in the national budget but had significant fiscal impacts.
“For expenditures and loans outside the budget, the Government sometimes seeks the state solicitor’s approval for legal clearance, but while the state solicitor had the mandate to address the legal compliance issues competently, the fiscal implications are often not addressed,” he said.
“It is in this connection that the controller function is proposed to be established in the Auditor-General’s Office.”
Koim said the Auditor-General’s Office would perform its current role of after-the-fact auditing transactions and could also review proposed unbudgeted transactions with the new powers and give the requisite clearance on the fiscal implications before the transaction was undertaken.
“This is in no way suggesting that Parliament’s authority to approve revenue, expenditure and borrowing be ignored, this, however, will protect the taxpayer’s money and bring discipline to Government financial management.”
He said the auditor-general performed a parliamentary function, hence, having a controller role would give it the necessary independence to play a supervisory role in the implementation of the national budget.
“Most Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India have their audit functions supplemented by a controller function, hence, this proposal is consistent with other comparable jurisdictions,” he said.
Koim appeared on summons to provide evidence and submissions.