SG Audit Chamber Joane Dovale-Meit: “We can honestly say, mission accomplished”

POSTED: 02/25/14 10:37 PM

St. Maarten– “We can honestly say: mission accomplished. We are operational,” said the Secretary-General of the General Audit Chamber, Joane Dovale-Meit during a presentation to the central committee of parliament yesterday afternoon.

Dovale-Meit outlined the history of the General Audit Chamber since its inception on 10-10-10 and explained the organization and the legal framework within which it executes its tasks to the parliamentarians. With a team of five full times, the chamber performs financial, compliance, performance and integrity audits. Based on its charter, the chamber is allowed to have a staff of eight full-timers.

Chamber chairman Ronald Halman and board members Daniel Hassell and Alphons Gumbs were also present at the meeting. Currently the chamber is auditing the country’s 2012 financial statement, and the financial compliance of the pension fund APS in the same year. Other projects underway are an audit of the tax compliance policy and a baseline study of institutional integrity management. These two audits will be completed by the end of March, Dovale-Meit said.

The plans for 2014 include the audits of the country’s 2013 financial statement and the financial compliance of pension fund APS over the years 2012 and 2013. For the first time the audit chamber will also audit the confidential expenditures of the national intelligence service VDSM. Furthermore, there is a plan for a performance audit on the government’s housing policy. This study should answer the question whether the government gets value for money with the offices its leases in the private market. A review of personnel expenditures is also foreseen for this year.

“Why do we do this?” Dovale-Meit asked rhetorically. “Our activities are based on one philosophy and that is that there has to be accountability. We provide our information to the parliament to support it in its supervisory task. Accountability is a precondition to democracy and public trust.”

The Secretary-General noted that the country did not produce any annual financial accounts between 2005 and 2010. “The audit chamber received the annual financial report for 2010 14 months late, that for 2011 was 10 months late and that for 2012 is currently 5 months late.”

Dovale-Meit said that the chamber considers the trend as an improvement. “We are looking forward to receiving the financial statement for 2013 on time.”

The work of the audit chamber does not stand on its own, Dovale-Meit said. “Those who are audited have to follow up on our recommendations. The parliament also has a role to play here, in calling the government to account. We have to do this together.”

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