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General News Wed, 16 Mar 2005

Accounts Committee urges Audit Service Independence

Accra, March 16, GNA - The Parliamentary Accounts Committee on Wednesday charged the Auditor-General to demonstrate the independence of the Service by ensuring that reports of the Service did not appear to be orchestrated at ridiculing or victimizing the society. The Committee, which was meeting for the first time since the First Republic, said the office of the Auditor-General must not be politicised as had been the case in recent times.

The Committee was led by its chairman Mr Samuel Sallas Mensah, who indicated to the Auditor-General, Mr Edward Agyeman Dua that, "the independence of the Audit Service must be jealously guarded under all circumstances."

The meeting was meant to forge closer partnership between the two institutions as a stricter means of monitoring the public purse. The Committee was not happy that Parliament was not being involved in the allocation and disbursement of HIPC Funds likewise the Audit Service and called for investigation into a Report on Account of the HIPC Funds currently doing the rounds.

The Committee insisted that the trend prevents Parliament to check the flow of expenditure.

Mr Sallas Mensah said it was improper that Reports of the Service got to the media long before getting to Parliament. He explained that if the trend persisted, the sanctity and respect of Parliament was compromised.

He asked the Service to take a second look at the lapses in the financial audit reports, especially the recurrence of fraudulent acts, Mr Sallas Mensah said.

Mr Doe Adjaho, MP for Avenor and Deputy Chairman, referring specifically to the release of an audit report on Mr Kwasi Pratt, a Journalist and Publisher and said the timing of the Report was not the best.

"We have to note the independence of this office and not take actions that make them (actions) look as if we are out to destroy people. The timing of Reports must be looked at and not to send the wrong signals on what they are meant for."

Alhaji Malik Yakubu, Deputy Speaker of Parliament and a member of the Committee called for adequate funding for the institution saying, "The Audit Service which is an independent body cannot be independent if it is left to be too weak to undertake its duties."

Alhaji Yakubu said, "The perception that the Auditor-General or the Audit Service is a political tool is not the best and must be changed. 16 03 05

Source: GNA