The efficiency of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is compromised by its lack of operational autonomy.
This was highlighted by Auditor General ‘Mathabo Makenete during a recent media dialogue with her office.
During the frank dialogue, Makenete laid bare some of the vulnerabilities of her office as a result of not being independent.
These includes limited budget allocation by Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, under which they operate.
“The OAG is not fully independent as we like. We plead for power so that we can do our work to the fullest,” Makenete said, adding there has not been a clean audit report since 1974.
She wants her office to be independent from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
“We have to be able to present the audit report directly to parliament, and not through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning as is currently the case.
This is because they delay to release the report, and the current arrangement does not grant us enough powers to enact our mandate.”
She also expressed concern about their offices being housed within the Ministry of Finance building.
Under normal circumstances, she said they should be operating from a separate building altogether.
The Auditor General also called for her office to be equipped with more staffers to enhance its efficiency.
“We need more staff in the OAG because we delay to do our work with only 43 member mandated to audit the whole country.”
‘Manako Ramonate, the Director Performance Audit said they need resources timeously to diligently do their work.
“It takes too long to complete a report and it is costly, although benefits derived from good performance audit outweigh the costs.”
“Resources should be availed in due time, in appropriate quality and quality and at the best prices. The government must make the most of the available resources,” she said.
Ramonate added that, in other countries the OAG hires its own professionals such as engineers and medical doctors to help in its work, but in Lesotho they do not have enough financial muscle to pursue such technical skills.
The OAG in Lesotho was created in accordance with Section 117 of the country’s Constitution. It derives its power and authority from the Audit Act 2016, which replaced the Audit Act 1973 and established the OAG as an independent entity.
The OAG serves as the highest authority for conducting audits in Lesotho, making it the country’s Supreme Audit Institution.
Among its functions, the OAG offers technical guidance and expertise to the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as it discharges its mandatory function of scrutinizing on the use of public funds in order to hold the executive accountable.