Wagun: My reputation was destroyed by Govt

Focus, Normal


THE immediate past public-curator Paul Wagun yesterday said the manner in which the Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee operate would “never resolve” problems of accountability in public offices.
Mr Wagun said both bodies in the performance of their statutory functions were also becoming judge and jury and executing the reputations of public offices and public officials occupying them in public.
Mr Wagun’s tenure in office over the past  years has come under the scrutiny of both the Auditor-General and the PAC which in their separate reports to Parliament made scathing attacks against the administration of the Public Curator’s Office.
The National has been covering the PAC report over a number of weeks.
While not denying that problems did and do continue to exist in the office, Mr Wagun said he was being castigated by the very authority that has placed him in a compromising situation.
The problem lies more with the Government than with individuals in positions such as his own, he said, because it does not support them with resources to perform their jobs well.
“The Auditor-General’s report on page 14 is a serious indictment on the Government,” he said.
“It tells us exactly why my office has not functioned as it should have over the years.”
On page 14, the report points out the fact that more than 14 years the Public Curator’s Office had only received a total of K3,827,975, an amount which Mr Wagun claims, subdivides into K200,000 allocations a year for an office that must manage four regional offices and the thousands of estates of dead people.
“The budget history reflects the dilemma that every public curator has faced and will face.
“They placed me in a position of responsibility. I made annual submissions for K2.5 million.
“I never got it and when I ran out of money I had to use my discretion and made decisions which they now accuse of illegality and accuse me of incompetence.
“My reputation has been destroyed.
“By giving me a very high office without the accompanying resources and support and then to shoot me down is totally, totally unfair.
“I have been disgraced by my own Government.”
The PAC agrees with Mr Wagun in part in its own report to Parliament.
The PAC puts a large part of the blame for the failure of the Public Curator upon “successive Governments which have failed to adequately fund and resource the office”.
Its report to Parliament, tabled in 2006 the PAC said the Public Curator’s Office was a “national disgrace”.
Mr Wagun said people were little aware of the existence of or their rights to the office because there had been little awareness done over the years – another problem related to lack of sufficient financial resources.
Mr Wagun wished to see a process that is fairer.
He wishes for the Auditor-General’s office to be subjected to analysis and their analysis to be subjected to interpretation by the courts on the legality of the conduct of the individuals or departments concerned.
In publishing the reports without any legal and court interpretation, Parliament is subjecting people to character assassination and public trial without ever getting to court.
He said a court outcome would also have weight in that departments, offices and individuals concerned would be compelled by the court decision to carry out the recommendations.
This would ensure the recommendations for the AG and the PAC are carried out without delay.
Almost as if in answer the PAC and the Auditor-General’s Office both agree that their recommendations had rarely, if ever, been carried out.
As Mr Wagun was making known his grievances to The National yesterday as the Department of Justice and Attorney-General was welcoming his successor, Peni Keris.