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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Give Auditor General’s office more powers

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When governance structures created room for the establishment of the office of the Auditor General, the idea was that the move would promote accountability in the management of public funds.

However, it has become a tendency to defeat this purpose as, year in, year out, the office of the Auditor General faces some challenges when the Auditor General presents its findings to Parliament.

For example, it has become common for the Auditor General to present reports without accompanying files, which does not create a complete picture of the state of public accounts in government departments, agencies and ministries.

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It does not inspire confidence in us when we get reports that the Auditor General has presented incomplete reports because some files were missing. This is exacerbated by the fact that some government ministries, departments and agencies present to Parliament files that have not been presented to the Auditor General, which leaves the Auditor General in a fix.

Ironically, this happens when the Auditor General is supposed to have powers to call for all reports from all government departments, ministries as agencies. After all, that is why we call the office ‘general’.

But what has been happening does not inspire confidence in us, because the office of the Auditor General, which is an important establishment in democratic governments built on the foundation of accountability and good governance, has been underrated for a long time.

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We take cognizance of the fact that there are lapses in the law, which give some government ministries, agencies and departments the leeway to keep files to themselves and get away with it. This is uncalled for.

Moving forward, we would like to call for sweeping changes in the laws, so that Malawi may stop being a laughing stock in good governance.

This is the only way public resources will be safeguarded in the country, to avoid a recurrence of embarrassing incidents such as Cashgate.

Delays to do so will give us a picture that someone benefits from this, at the expense of the common good. Let us not forget that those entrusted with power rule on trust.

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