Agencies told to get outside accounting help with audit backlogs
Auditor General (AG) Deodat Sharma and Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) David Patterson on Monday implored all autonomous and semi-autonomous agencies to seek out the help of private chartered accountants in a bid to reduce large outstanding backlogs of audited financial statements.
The issue of backlogs in audits came up when the National Parks Commission and the Protected Areas Commission appeared before the PAC to answer to issues raised in the AG’s 2016 report.
It was revealed during that meeting that the National Parks Commission last laid audited reports in the National Assembly since 2008, amounting to 13 years of backlog in audit reports.
In the case of the Protected Areas Commission, a report was last laid in the National Assembly back in 2013.
It was noted, however, that the Auditor General has been provided with several updated reports which are yet to be laid in the House.
The delays were an issue of concern for the AG and the PAC with Sharma explaining that there seems to be an issue with the in-house capacity at these agencies to get the audits completed.
To this end, it was advised that the conduct of the audits can be contracted to external auditors in a bid to get the necessary assistants to bring the accounts up to date.
He said this can be safely done only if the accountants are not already contracted by his office.
The AG explained that the backlogs were also affecting the determination of opening balances for the affected agencies.
Sharma was backed up in his suggestion by Patterson who echoed the sentiments that chartered accountants can be hired in the event that there are not contractual conflicts of interest.
“The PAC strongly recommends that you go that route,” Patterson said.