Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has justified parliamentary committees’ rejection of representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) not having controlling officers in their delegations to respond to audit queries.
PAC chairperson Alekeni Menyani said in an interview they used Section 60 (3) of the Constitution to send back the teams because the committees had invited controlling officers and not ministry representatives to explain the audit queries for the financial year 2013/14.
In Section 60(3), the Constitution empowers Parliament to conduct investigations or subpoena the attendance of any person or office holder as required in connection with the prudent exercise of their respective functions.
Menyani said his committee provides checks and balances for public finances; hence, those that appear before it take oaths before saying anything to the committee.
He said: “We invited them for a specific issue, thus audit report for 2013/14. If they informed us earlier about the absence of the controlling officer then it was good, but they haven’t. So, using that section, our decision is justifiable.”
He was reacting to The Nation query on conflicting situations where PAC and the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises sent back representatives of Ministry of Health (MoH) and Roads Authority(RA).
The Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee sent back RA chief economist Steve Siwande for showing up alone whereas PAC rebuffed MoH team for coming without the controlling officer, Principal Secretary (PS) Dan Namarika.
Siwande said his lone appearance was not meant to undermine the committee, but it was because the other officials at RA were attending equally important meetings in the Northern Region.
RA was expected to brief the committee on the implementation of road programmes and projects for the financial year 2016/17 and also give an estimated expenditure for 2017/18 financial year.
PAC, on the other hand, described as lack of seriousness the absence of MoH PS.
PAC had summoned MoH to clarify audit queries from the audit report for the 2013/14 financial year.
MoH chief director of administration Dr. Bestone Chisamile attempted to explain why the PS was not available and had delegated him to respond to the queries. However, the committee threw Chisamile and his team out.
Two weeks ago PAC also sent back Namarika for alleging that the Auditor General was not following the right procedures in communicating findings of audit reports. He later withdrew his comment.