MPs question why the delay in tabling audited reports

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: TUESDAY 17 JUNE 2014: The delay in tabling Government Ministries and Corporations audited reports to Parliament came under fire from several Opposition MPs this morning.

Parliament started its Budget session this morning and MP for Fa’asaleleaga No.2 Papalii Li’o Masepa’u raised concern that for the past four years, the only reports tabled were those from the years 2008-2010 and none covering the current parliament that was sworn in in 2011.

Papali’i, a lawyer and a former Assistant Commissioner of Police reminded the Speaker of the Parliamentary policies that should be enforced.

“The law states that audited reports should be tabled after every six months of continuous meetings,” said Papali’i.

“That has not been followed,” according to Papali’i.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoli’ai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi intervened saying the report raised by MP’s does not warrant urgency in the discussion of the current budget.

“We are talking about the estimated budget for next year not documents pertaining to things of the past,” said Tuilaepa.

“Those are things for the Parliamentary Finance Committee to look at and report to Parliament but not to be discussed in this session,” Tuilaepa argued.

The Minister for the Audit Office, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo stepped in to clarify.

He said 90% of the reports dating back to 2008 had been audited.

He said all the government Ministries reports had been audited and the focus is now on the Corporations reports.

The Audit office work accordingly to how fast the Ministries handed in their report said Fonotoe.

Fonotoe said the need to speed up the auditing process resulted in the addition of more staff for the Audit office.

“We are behind two years and that is due to the number of staff recruited by the Office to accommodate the demand,” said Fonotoe.

He said the more staff, the quicker the work.

Tuilaepa compared the two years behind to 20 years ago when the Government of the day could not submit reports on time.

Papalii Lio Masepa’u pointed out that a lot of money has been allocated for the maintenance of the government buildings and less than a million tālā has been allocated to the Audit office that needs all the support so they can do their work more effectively and on time.

He also raised concern that the financial support for Statistics to review domestic earnings and expenditure is no longer “but it’s the very statistics we need to gauge how we are progressing in our economy.”

Parliament is sitting 0900-1.00 and 3.00-7.00pm debating the 2014-2015 budget.