by Simon Sabally
The Auditor-General has very important functions to perform. He or she checks on the withdrawals from the Consolidated Fund or any other public fund to ensure that such withdrawals are in accordance with the law. He or she also audits, once in every year, all offices and authorities of the Government of The Gambia, as well as disallows any item of any expenditure which is contrary to law. These stated functions indicate the importance of the Auditor -General and the seriousness that should be exercised in the appointment of persons in such office.
The Auditor-General heads the National Audit Office which is an office in the public service. He or she is assisted in the performance of the duties by other members of the office. But, what is troubling to me is s. 159(2) of the Constitution of The Gambia which empowers the Auditor-General to appoint “the staff of the National Audit Office” after consultation with the Public Service Commission. He or she has the power to appoint “senior and professional staff, as may be prescribed by regulations of the Public Service Commission. ”
The cited powers of the Auditor-General defies public accountability, transparency and professionalism which are the hallmarks of national audit and finance management, as well as the principles of public service. The vesting of the power of appointment of all staff as well as the management of those staff in the hands of an individual could result into cronyism, abuse of office, nepotism and other negative attendant effects, thereby diluting professionalism and tenure in office.
Similarly, the Auditor-General is the head of the National Audit Office and also the chair of the board. If my knowledge is accurate, only the Central Bank and the National Audit Office laws have such powers.
I propose the amendment of the Constitution and NAO Act to make the appointments the remit of the board and management and also remove the Auditor-General as chair of the board.