Auditor General, Junias Kandjeke, is hopeful that proposed amendments to the State Finance Act will give his office more powers to bring to book public officials abusing State resources.
This comes as a trend is developing across Africa, where Auditor Generals are being given more powers to bring to book government officials accused of abusing tax payers’ money.
South Africa’s Parliament last month passed the Public Audit Amendment Bill‚ which gives the office of the Auditor-General more bite.
The new law gives the Auditor General the power to refer adverse findings to investigative bodies‚ as well as recover funds from accounting officers lost due to non-adherence to the Public Finance Management Act.
“The answer is yes,” said Kandjeke when asked whether he would welcome such a move in Namibia, adding that the trend is growing in Africa as the continent aligns itself with latest international trends.
Kandjeke said Auditor Generals in countries such as Ghana, Mozambique and Malawi have already been given more powers, while other countries are in the process of doing so.
At the moment, Kandjeke’s powers are restricted to auditing public finances and have reports tabled in parliament so that the people’s representatives could see how tax payers money was being used.
“It is a welcome effort by our colleagues; it’s always good when the Auditor General has powers to act.”
According to the Auditor General, amendments to the State Finance Act are expected to be effected before the end of this year.
“The whole continent is moving towards that direction, where the Auditor General can take action to ensure that money is recovered, and when the Auditor General gives instructions, people comply.”
Kandjeke said the new Act, to be known as the Public Finance Management Act, will separate the powers and duties of the Auditor General and his office, giving him more independence.
He said that he hopes the amendment will improve governance of State resources.
“The Auditor General is taking care of the money of the people - the taxpayers; he is not representing the government. He presents reports to the people’s representatives in Parliament. These reports are public documents so that the owners of the money, taxpayers understand how their money was used.
“But you don’t want to report, just for the sake of reporting. The reports must have an impact.”
Reports issued by Kandjeke in the third quarter of last year and submitted to Parliament showed that a number ministries and government agencies overspent in the 2016/17 financial year.
The ministries and agencies that overspent include health, defence, trade, labour, justice, and the two education ministries, as well as the National Assembly, National Planning Commission (NPC) and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The health ministry overspent by close to N$400 million.