The brave staff of the Auditor General’s Office” (LTE, sent 5 November 2014).
[I would be grateful if the reader would forward this letter to the Auditor General’s Office, in case it is not published by the newspapers, as is usually the case with such letters].
“Brave staff of the Auditor General’s Office”
Letter to Editor (The Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business, Ashwin Raj) (sent 5 November 2014)
This week has seen remarkable evidence of a group of brave civil servants doing their duty, according to the highest of standards expected of civil servants anywhere in the world. I refer to the Auditor General (Mr Tevita Bolanavanua) and his auditing staff.
While many of us had worried that the Auditor General would have been prevented or at least discouraged from doing their audits of government departments according to their brief, the publishing of the 28 reports for the seven years 2007 to 2013, proves otherwise.
The production of these voluminous reports needed immense courage since they reveal damning evidence of seven years of mismanagement of funds and improper financial practices of the Bainimarama Government, including the offices of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, under whom the Auditor General’s Office directly falls.
The public is well aware that civil servants can be, and have been dismissed summarily without explanations or due process, and denied the right to appeal their dismissals.
The fact that the staff of the Auditor General’s Office pressed on and conducted their audits and published their findings, is remarkable testimony that there is at least one office in the Fiji Civil Service (I know of others), where professionalism has prevailed, despite the threats to their employment.
Some might complain that these reports should have been made available to the public annually. But that responsibility has to be laid at the door of the unelected Bainimarama Government during that period, and to all the Permanent Secretaries who were the highest level civil servants, charged with the proper use of tax-payers’ funds and accountability to the public.
It is a sad indictment of the lack of professionalism of the Public Service Commission and its Permanent Secretary, that they have never seen fit these last seven years, to formally acknowledge the sterling work of the Auditor General’s Office and its staff.
The Audtor General’s Office is auditing not just the finances of the central government but also the many public enterprises in which tax-payers money has been invested, some of which the public know to have been improperly managed these last seven years. We can expect many more such reports.
I call on the taxpayers of Fiji to join me in applauding and giving moral support to Mr Tevita Bolanavanua and his staff.
Professor Wadan Narsey