The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will name and shame all public accounting officers who do not perform well.
In its 2012/2013 financial year report, which is yet to be debated in Parliament, the committee says it arrived at the decision following a challenge it experienced from accounting officers who exhibited poor working habits and who hindered the committee’s work.
Such officers the committee laments made its “work difficult by their numerous requests to postpone appearance; coming before the committee unprepared; submitting poorly prepared, casual and unconvincing responses; late submission of responses; and failure to furnish the office of the Auditor General with advance copies of responses.”
“As a measure of the significance the committee attaches to this matter, the Committee has resolved that starting with the accounts of 2013/2014 financial year, reports to this August House will be accompanied with a list of honour naming and commending top performing accounting officers in an order of merit; and another list of shame naming and rebuking those who do not take their accounting duties seriously.”
Apart from poor working habits among accounting officers the committee says that unfinished assignments carried down from the 10th Parliament hindered its work. The committee pointed out that that the backlog which went as back as 3 years hampered its operations by “delaying the approval of up-to-date accounts.”
“To correct this aberration, the Committee took the unprecedented measure of considering audited accounts for three consecutive years simultaneously (2010/2011, 2011/2012, and 2012/2013),” the report says.
The PAC is mandated with an oversight role on the expenditure of public funds by ministries and departments as well as adherence to government financial regulations and procedures.
In the same report the committee has also pointed out lack of professional editing skills among its members and clerks as one of its setbacks. “Limited access to transcribed hard copy Hansard records makes referencing and cross-checking of information and evidence a challenge,” says the report.
The committee also noted a financial and human resource constrain in the office of the Auditor General which it wants urgently addressed if public funds are to be secured under the devolved system. To avert these constraints the committee recommends a continuous training and capacity building for clerks in all house committees.
While this committee is one of the most important and most powerful house committees this report may go unnoticed as the committee is currently embroiled in a tussle over claims that a section of its members have received bribes so as to doctor the report.
There are also calls to disband the committee chaired by Budalang’i Member of Parliament (MP) and Secretary General of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Ababu Namwamba.
Thus even as the committee moves to name and shame accounting officers with poor working habits it will also be prudent for the committee to start with naming and shaming its members who exhibit bad conduct such as taking bribes among other habits that go against the spirit of the Constitution.