The Auditor General is an Independent public officer appointed by the Governor General under Section 108 of the Solomon Islands Constitution. The Institution audits, records accounts of all public entities, such as the National Government Ministries, Provincial Governments, State Owned Enterprise, Statutory Bodies and Donor Funded Projects. The office conducts several audits; Financial Audits, Assurance Audits, Performance audit and Special Audit.
Transparency Solomon Islands commends the Auditor General’s Office in the fight against corruption. It does so by identifying corrupt practices, conducts and reporting them to the appropriate authorities like the police, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Leadership Code Commission.
No one and no institution is safe from corrupt conduct, and practice. The responsibility to ensure corrupt conducts are rolled back and eliminated rests with the Authorizing officers of these public institutions and Ministries. It is their responsibility to hold those responsible accountable.
Such a responsible action we note was demonstrated by the National Judiciary of Solomon Islands. In June 2014, the National Judiciary formally requested OAG was to investigate suspected theft and loss of money for period 1 January to 31 December 2013.
The Auditor General’s Office carried out this audit with the objective of assessing whether the National Judiciary had effective internal control measures in place to provide management with assurance over the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of revenue collections, and to determine whether cash was receipted and deposited within the CBSI bank account were done in a timely basis.
According to the report of the Auditor General [ 2014] the Revenue Collection of the National Judiciary totals at $3.8Million. This was the amount of revenue that were actually receipted.
These Revenues were collected at the six locations [Central Magistrates, Court in Honiara, four provincial Magistrates Court located at Gizo, Auki, Lata and Kirakira and the High Court of Solomon Islands.
During the OAG examinations of the accounts, 35 receipts books were not made available for examination for the period between January to June 2013. The audit noted that revenue collection increased in 2013 for both the month of April and June. In-depth examination of sheets recording revenues deposited at MoFT were found to be incomplete. The receipt books for the period January to June 2013 were not available for audit scrutiny.
OAG noted there was poor internal control which led to irregularities in the process of collecting revenues within the National Judiciary. The audit found that there was a shortfall of $56,680 made up of the missing receipt numbers that were not listed in the field summary sheets a significant proportion (7%) of the total revenue for the period.
The report recommended that the National Judiciary comply with Government Records Management Policy and ensure all documents and records are really available and filed. National Judiciary and MoFT in the findings of the OAG have breached Financial Instruction by not immediately reporting to senior officer any suspected irregularities in collected revenue.
TSI is concerned that the practices of not complying with the Financial Instructions also affects this arm of our democracy (Judiciary). TSI calls on public servants and more especially the authorizing officers in other institutions and ministries to follow the example of the National Judiciary by alerting the Auditor General’s Office to carry out special audits as when they suspect things not to be the way they should be. For those working in the Judiciary we urge you to upheld the image and reputations of this institutions and to comply with Financial Instructions 5 13(1), a collecting officer at the Treasury, Sub-accountant or other office must immediately report to senior officer any suspected irregularities in collected revenue, cashbook or other documents presented by the Revenue Collector. It is one Institution that people still have faith in and where they hope to be equally heard and where they can have some sense of justice when every other avenue have failed them, because of corruption or lack of trust.
Transparency Solomon Islands commends the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) for job well done and continuing to uncover suspected theft and loss of money in government line ministries and constitutionally established institutions.