WINDHOEK – Auditor General Junias Kandjeke yesterday said he understood the frustration of those who wish his audit findings should lead to the prosecution of individuals and institutions implicated in perceived wrongdoings.
However, the State Finance Act, from which he draws his mandate, does not permit him to go beyond auditing books of state institutions and making recommendations that other state bodies could act upon.
He hopes that with plans to amend the State Finance Act, his office would be granted more powers, as is the case in Ghana, to deal with straightforward cases of malpractices instead of merely making recommendations.
Many such recommendations, he said, are picking up dust in the offices of those who have been implored to take certain steps.
Audit reports tabled lately in the National Assembly contain myriads of issues, highlighting many institutions’ inability to account for financial resources allocated to them – usually in millions.
“My job primarily entails determining whether funds allocated to these institutions have been used for the purposes they were allocated,” he told New Era telephonically yesterday.
“If I find anything to the contrary, I indicate it as such in my audit reports. I am required to report my findings to the National Assembly after I have given the concerned institutions a chance to respond to my findings,” he explained.
“I am not investigating these institutions. I am auditing them.”
Some members of the public suggested in recent weeks that Kandjeke do more than just report on findings of his audits, with some going a step further to suggest that he lay charges against those who may be found wanting.
“These are internal matters that line ministries must take up themselves. Parliament itself has a Public Accounts Committee which should be advising further action once they have all facts. But this committee, of which I am not part, can also be abused for political reasons if its powers are not properly thought out.”
“To be honest I understand the frustration of the people who hear every day about the audit findings but no action is taken when it should be necessary. We are forever prepared to serve as witnesses if it is so required that we explain our findings,” said the AG.
He said sometimes audits by his office uncover what would qualify under the Public Service Act as gross misconduct. “But it’s not my mandate to say our findings constitute gross misconduct. I have to be careful not to pass such judgement. We provide facts as per the audit findings and the relevant authorities are expected to determine whether such findings constitute gross misconduct and devise necessary steps after that,” he explained further.
Kandjeke said the State Finance Act will soon be amended and his office hopes to be apportioned more powers to deal with straightforward cases.
“For example, if someone claimed S&T but the trip was cancelled, we must be able to say that the person must pay back the money. Right now we can’t even make that call. We are not looking for power that will overlap with the mandates of other bodies like Anti-Corruption Commission but we need to at least have power to deal with straightforward administrative issues.”
He explained that the common and recurring finding at various institutions is poor filing of financial records, which often leads to funds being unaccounted for.
“People often think ‘It’s just two documents that I need to file, so I will do it later.’ Then they forget and when the auditors come, they can’t retrieve those documents. In the end, such lack of documents would end up being recorded as not having accounted for certain things.”