Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to categorise audit reports in order of importance for submission to the National Assembly for scrutiny.
The committee made the proposal after noting that Parliament was spending time scrutinising redundant reports.
The committee is meeting this week and has, among other things, summoned the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) over a performance audit report on drug distribution at CMST.
However, The Nation has learnt that the performance audit was carried out in 2008/09, but the report was only issued in 2012; meaning that the recommendations and queries contained were four years old.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani confirmed in an interview yesterday that the committee was unable to fully carry out its oversight functions because of outdated audit reports in their work plan.
He said: “We have spoken to the Auditor General that he must improve on timeliness of submission of reports to the Ministry of Finance as well as to the committee. The audit at Central Medical Stores [Trust] was carried out before it became a trust and some of the challenges were resolved, but the report only came out in 2012 when recommendations of the Auditor General had been implemented.”
The committee has since proposed to the Auditor General to categorise reports into high risk and low risk grading.
There are legal inconsistencies on submission of reports as Section 184 (2) of the Constitution demands that the Auditor General should submit annual reports through the Minister of Finance while the Public Audit Act states that he should submit them directly to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Menyani said this makes Parliament’s work difficult and redundant.
He said: “The committee ends up making recommendations on issues which have already been addressed, like in the case of drug stockouts and reforms at CMST.”
When MoH and CMST officials appeared before the committee, Menyani asked them to report on how recommendations and findings of the audits have been addressed.
This was before the committee addressed audit queries.
In his address, CMST chief executive officer Feston Kaupa said the audit report was aged and transformations had since taken place to address the challenges, including the establishment of Central Medical Stores as a trust.
He said CMST had since carried out external audits starting from 2011/12 when the trust was established and these had been cleared by the Auditor General.
Kaupa confirmed the findings of the performance audit that CMST had a 60 percent drug stock-outs in 2008/09 but the situation had improved in subsequent years going up to 60 percent drug availability in 2015/16.