APIA: WEDNESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2014: Bad governance reigns in public bodies. That’s because they don’t produce annual reports every year for Parliament, so that Members of Parliament and thus the country can know about their performances.
That annual reports be tabled in Parliament every year is a legal requirement.
“That’s why I raise the importance of this every year,” said Papali’i Niko Lee Hang chairman of the Public Accounts Committee which is responsible for reviewing annual reports – and make recommendations for improvements if needed.
“That’s what we call transparency, accountability and good governance,” said Papali’i.
Out of all public bodies only Samoa Life Assurance Corporation is on time with its annual reports, he said.
Shortages of accounts staff in public bodies is one reason for delays, and if accounts are produced on time the Audit Office – which audits the accounts of such bodies – is said to be short of staff as well.
In cases annual reports are years late.
Samoa Land Corporation for instance last produced an annual report in 2005.
Then Minister of the corporation, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga told Parliament recently the accounts were forgotten in the strong room.
Papali’i blames the incompetence of management for lateness in annual reports.
An accountant by profession, he said if accounts are updated monthly, by the end of the financial year it would just be a matter of compiling them for auditing.
“But I believe it’s either incompetency or their (management of public bodies) taking their time.”
Amongst the findings of a 2011 study by Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions two seem relevant here:
· Timely completion of public accounts audits is fundamental to holding governments and public entities accountable.
· The effectiveness of PAC (Public Accounts Committee)s in parliamentary jurisdictions is dependent on the timely completion and tabling of public accounts, the experience and skills of committee members, and political stability and the commitment of political leaders to such principles.