CAG: Change schedule to debate reports thoroughly

08Jul 2021
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
CAG: Change schedule to debate reports thoroughly

CONTROLLER and Auditor General (CAG) Charles Kichere has appealed to the National Assembly to review its work schedule so that audit reports are tabled at the beginning of sittings and adequate time is allocated for them to be debated exhaustively.

He said the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) is set to start using an improved audit system that promises more detailed reports that if tabled only once towards the end of a parliamentary sitting, will not get enough time for debate in the House.

At an event to mark 60 years of NAOT here yesterday, the CAG said that delaying to debate the reports in the House results in slow implementation of the recommendations.

“We request the legislature to consider tabling the CAG audit reports for debate early enough and not after one financial year,” he said.

Starting with the five-year strategic plan, 2021/2022 to 2025/2026 there will be plenty of change in how NAOT conduct audit services delivery and alter its relationship with ministerial departments and agencies, he stated.

NAOT has also developed a capacity building manual for training MPs to be administered through the various sector-based committees starting this month, he said, itemizing this as among changes on its 60th anniversary. This shift shall make NAOT a centre of excellence in the region and beyond.

National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai responded to the CAG’s request, saying his office shall work on the matter and see how to go about it.

He admitted that it takes too long for NAOT reports to be debated, as they are usually submitted in March, towards the start of the parliamentary budget session, and then the reports are debated in the post-budget session in September.

Ndugai applauded NAOT for the good work it is doing, underlining that NAOT and the legislature have a cordial relationship. “Through the audits NAOT helps the legislature to know what is happening in public offices, government departments and agencies, among others”.

He promised to continue pushing for increased budget for the office in order to boost NAOT performance, saying it has brought the country respect through good participation in UN audits for six years now.

NAOT has conducted credible audits in the East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) activities, he further noted.

NAOT was set up in 1957 as the Audit Department, operating as part of the British Overseas Audit Services firm, based in London. It was headed by the Director of Audit as per the Audit Ordinance CAP 86 which governed audit activities.

It had one office in Dar es Salaam at Kivukoni Front Street, handed responsibility for auditing accounts of all government departments, with the first branch to be opened in Arusha. Its first assignment was to audit the Tanganyika Custodian of the Enemy Property Department, a UK specialised office based there.

This department oversaw abandoned properties left behind by fleeing German nationals after Imperial Germany surrendered to end World War I.

In 1959 it had four stations, the others being Mwanza, Tanga and Arusha, and mid-1961the Exchequer and Audit Ordinance of 1961 came into place, where the office was changed from k the Audit Department to the Exchequer and Audit Department, under a new designation, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG).

The mandate of the CAG was enshrined under Article 73 of the Constitution of Tanganyika at independence, retained in the 1962 Republican Constitution where presidential powers as Head of State and the government merged offices of the Governor General and the Prime Minister set out in the independence constitution, with the power to appoint the CAG vested in the president.

On 9th July 1965, the Interim Constitution of Tanzania was enacted and came into force, enshrined in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977l after the two political parties in the two sides of the union merged,, the principal act in consolidating the union.

In 2001, following the growth of the country’s economy and the need for further control of the use of public money, the Exchequer and Audit Ordinance, 1961 was repealed and replaced by the Public Finance Act, No. 6 of 2001 (revised 2004).

This law changed the name Exchequer and Audit Department to the present National Audit Office of Tanzania and provided considerable details on the audit function.