General Audit Chamber admonishes Parliament

POSTED: 06/27/14 2:06 AM

St. Maarten – “There was not a single instance known to us whereby government was “questioned” by a Member of Parliament on the basis of one of our reports in 2013,” the General Audit Chamber said in its latest annual report. The chamber lamented that none of its findings, or reports for that matter, were even read by Members of Parliament to hold the executive branch of government accountable for its actions. “We are not aware of a Parliamentary debate in 2013 with members of government regarding our reported findings. This is regrettable, especially because, in our opinion, Parliament missed opportunities to insist that government improve the quality of their governance,” they said in it.

The 2013 annual report was presented to Governor Eugène Holiday yesterday during a short ceremony at the Cabinet of the Governor in Philipsburg.  As required by law (National Ordinance General Audit Chamber – Landsverordening Algemene Rekenkamer), the annual report was also made available to Parliament. Each year the General Audit Chamber is required to report on its activities of the preceding year to both the Governor and Parliament.

In its report, the General Audit Chamber reflects on the audit activities of the previous calendar year and provides an overview of the organization’s activities.  The conduct of audits is the main task of the institution. “Two major reports were published and four audits designed, prepared and put into execution in 2013. At least one of each type of audit that the General Audit Chamber is authorized to conduct was initiated in 2013. This was a milestone for our young institution,” they said of the work done so far. “While our institutional strengthening remains an ongoing process, the business of auditing, though never routine, is now an established activity. In addition to the core business, we worked in 2013 to strengthen relationships at all levels.”

The Governor was presented a digital copy of the annual report 2013 that is available in both English and Dutch. The delegation from the General Audit Chamber included the Chairman Ronald Halman and Secretary-General Joane Dovale-Meit.

They were not entirely critical of Parliament, however, there were some rays of sunshine in the report. The Chamber said that, “Contact with members of government continued in 2013 and in support of strengthening our relationship with Parliament, we organized and provided a master class workshop to the membership. Members of Parliament were very supportive of the initiative and such events are intended to become a recurring activity for our institution.”

The report, after presentation to the Governor and Parliament, is made public and is available for download and viewing on the website of the General Audit Chamber (www.arsxm.org).

As a part of the presentation of the report, the chairman reviewed the contents of the report with the Governor, highlighting areas that continue to have their attention.

Halman emphasized that the Chamber conducts its work and prepares reports as part of its constitutional task to support and facilitate Parliament. It is Parliament that holds the authority to supervise the activities related to government’s budget and public expenditure.

The report characterizes the year 2013 as a “busy” one. Of the audit-types that the General Audit Chamber is authorized to conduct, one of each was initiated in 2013. Challenges with which the organization had to contend in 2013 are also discussed in the annual report. Advisory tasks other than audit activities with which the General Audit Chamber is tasked are also detailed along with a review of the institutions financial performance.

“Our findings and suggestions are aimed at stimulating improvement of the entities we have examined,” the report said. “Ultimately, we share the responsibility for the improvement of government, administration and civil service, on Sint Maarten. We will continue to carry out our task; facilitating Parliament in their supervisory duties of government.”

The annual report must be presented to Parliament as well as the Governor prior to July 1st of each year as stipulated by law.

 

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