Parliament not rubber stamp; it must hold government to account - MPs

20May 2017
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
Parliament not rubber stamp; it must hold government to account - MPs

THE leaders of parliamentary oversight committees yesterday emotionally explained how they have been rendered toothless to the extent of being unable to criticize the government so it could execute its duties effectively and in a transparent manner.

THE leaders of parliamentary oversight committees yesterday emotionally explained how they have been rendered toothless to the extent of being unable to criticize the government so it could execute its duties effectively and in a transparent manner.

They were, for instance, shocked to learn that only 4 per cent of the recommendations made by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) with regard to local government authorities in the 2014/15 financial report had been implemented.

This was revealed at a symposium held in Dar es Salaam yesterday where they met to discuss, among other things, thegovernment’s decision to slash the CAG budget by 50 per cent.

Themed ‘Making the CAG report more accessible to the public to promote accountability and good governance,’ theforum was organized by the Foundation for Civil Societies.

Former CAG Ludovick Utouh, who wasthe main speaker and a founder of the Wajibu Institute of Accountability (WIPA), shocked the participants when he revealed that only 4 per cent the CAG’s recommendations pertaining to local government authorities in the 2014/15 financial year report have been implemented so far.

Among founders of WIPA who were also some of the main speakers included former Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) Managing Director Yona Killagane and Francis Kiwanga, former ExecutiveDirector of the Foundation for Civil Societies

In their presentations, the participants questioned the government’s intention in cutting the CAG’s budget by 50 per cent even as the role of the CAG was clearly illustrated in the laws and in the constitution.

They warned that the government might soon find it hard to implement accountability and proper management of public funds. Utouh raised concern over the deteriorating trend in implementing the CAG’s recommendations, saying it could ultimately affectthe implementation of various development projects.

“The trend in implementing the CAG’s recommendations is deteriorating and the CAG’s reports seem not to be takenseriously at all,” he said.

According to him, from 2006/7 to 2011/12 financial years, only 19 per cent of the recommendations had been fully implemented.

The former CAG said during his presentation that only 52 per cent of the recommendations were partially implemented while 29 per cent were not implemented at all.

He also revealed that in the 2015/16 financial year, out of 199 recommendations from the CAG regarding local government authorities, only 22 had been implemented while 49 per cent of accounts books (receipt books) were reportedly lost and notaccounted for even as they involved billions of taxpayers money.

“In the 2015/16 budget, only 25 percent of the recommendations by the CAG were worked on by the PublicAccounts Committee,” he said.

Various stakeholders also questioned the legality of cutting the CAG’s budget, saying it demonstrated government efforts to undermine the oversight role of the CAG’s office.

In her remarks, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Nagy Livingstone Kaboyoka said such a move showed that the government was not ready to have taxpayer’s money fully accounted for. “How can we develop if money that we allocate for development projects is not well accounted for,” she queried.

The chairperson said they were concerned with the decision as parliamentarians since they were responsible for ensuringfull implementation of the CAG’s recommendations.

She called for more such platforms that could help to push for collective efforts in the implementation ofthe CAG’s recommendations, hence improve parliament’s oversight role.