Office of the Auditor General1432 13 Jun, 2012
Mr. Greenidge: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am happy to rise to address this motion standing against my name.
This motion, as drafted, is very narrow in its intent. It is really intended to highlight the measures taken by the Government which have had the effect of undermining key provisions in Constitution, notwithstanding the Government’s constant claims to be democratic. In that sense, the motion points to behaviour wider than that affecting the Audit Office and it is in that sense it is linked to the other motions that we examined earlier this afternoon and those we addressed on the previous occasion.
As the preamble to the motion indicates, the Audit Office under an Auditor General is required to conduct annual audited accounts, financial transactions or operations and financial statements of Central Government Ministries and departments, Local Government Agencies and so on. The Auditor General is also required to certify the annual financial statements submitted by these agencies and present to the House and the other relevant authorities the annual reports on these audits. The point is that in carrying out such work the Auditor General and the Office should not be constrained or unnecessarily influenced by other actors and officials. We have seen the consequence of them being constrained. Do I need to mention any names?
In this regard it is quite remarkable that the Government should have passed an Act in 2003 under the very noses of the multilateral agencies which… [Interruption] Okay, thank you very much. I have heard and am acting on the advice. I am proceeding.
The fact that this was a deliberate act and not any type of accident is given credence by the fact that it has taken this motion – this particular motion before us now – together with public criticism to embarrass the Government into removing from that Schedule the Office of the Auditor General. The statute was on the books unamended for 9 years, notwithstanding the constitutional… [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, please allow Mr. Greenidge to make his presentation to move his motion.
Mr. Greenidge: I thank you very much for your protection, Mr. Speaker. As far as the problems are concerned – those problems were outlined on a previous occasion and again today – we are saying, in essence, that the power to go behind the block vote and to exercise influence on the Auditor General and his programme of work is what constituted the problem for us. In the light of that we have had some of our most distinguished Public Servants as Auditor Generals. Even those that this Government, the PPP Government, sought it fit to eulogise, which President Jagdeo, whose virtues he was singing last year, we find the Government and its actions have resulted in those persons demitting office under circumstances that are less than sweet.
If the Hon. Member on the other side is unaware of what is been happening in Guyana, I think it is most unfortunate. I also want to say that the import of the changes that are proposed here will mean that in future the practice of this Government of ignoring the Reports of the Auditor General… [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Greenidge, I urge you not to allow yourself to be distracted. Please allow the Member to speak.
Mr. Greenidge: I am tempted to refer our colleagues to the 2010 Auditor General’s Report… [Ms. Shadick: Well we have not looked at that as yet.] …but it has been laid - which makes reference to what one commentator observed as serial abuse, for example, of the Contingencies Fund and the continuous ignoring of the recommendations by the House.
Mr. Speaker, what I should like to take the opportunity to do is to commend the Government for doing the right thing at last. I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s reaction when he was told that the United States had taken certain steps in the course of the Second World War saying that one can always depend, although we cannot use that term in this case, upon the Government to do the right thing after they have tried everything else. That is what has happened here. We can commend them for that. In the light of that I would like to invite the House to withdraw the motion. Thank you very much.
Mr. Speaker: You would like to invite the House to…?
Mr. Greenidge: To note that I would like to withdraw the motion.
Mr. Speaker: Are you formally withdrawing the motion? [Interruption] Order! Hon. Members, I think that we were all taken by surprise. I certainly am as I have been given a long list of persons to speak and I would have appreciated the courtesy of being notified that the motion would not have proceeded. That is not to say, that a Member does not have the right to withdraw his or her motion at the time. I must say that I wish to commend you, Sir, for your dignified stand and that there is nothing to explain but I must stay that... [Interruption] If in fact the Member feels that the terms of his motion have been met he has done the proper thing, which I wish to commend him for, by withdrawing it. I so thank you and I so recognise that you have done the right and proper thing.
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