Committee Report on Budget of the Office of Auditor-General 2005-06: adoption

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

Auditor-General Report

11 February 2005

Chairperson: Ms B Hogan (ANC)

Document handed out
Committee Report on Budget of the Office of Auditor-General 2005-06

The Committee effected technical amendments to its Report on the Budget of the Auditor-General for 2005. The Committee noted that the permanent oversight committee must be established as soon as possible.

Committee Report on Budget of the Office of Auditor-General 2005-06
The Chair stated that Mr P Netshandama, the Committee researcher, had raised an interesting point in questioning whether the Committee had the right to approve the budget of the Office of the Auditor-General, an independent institution, and whether the Committee can request the House to approve such a budget. She noted that the Committee would simply state in its report that the document "represents a realistic financial plan", as such a statement did not amount to approval.

Ms J Fubbs (ANC) agreed with the Chair.

Mr E Trent (DA) stated that the Report must include the fact that the Committee had applied its mind to the matter of the budget. The permanent Committee, once established, would have to identify its exact terms of reference.

Mr A Kamedien (Auditor General's Office) explained that the office of the Auditor-General had conducted extensive research on this issue and a legal opinion had even been sought. The conclusion was reached that if Parliament ‘approved’ the budget of the Office of the Auditor-General, this would infringe on its independence but it should instead ‘consider’, as was stipulated in the Public Audit Act.

The Committee effected certain technical amendments to the Report before adopting it.

Continued oversight function
The Chair requested the Office of the Auditor-General to inform the Committee of further work that the Office would likely present to the permanent committee during 2005.

A representative from the Office of the Auditor-General replied that the budget was the main item that needed to be finalised.

The Chair requested a letter from the Office of the Auditor-General which consolidated all the issues from the Office of the Auditor-General that required the attention of the permanent committee.

Mr Trent stated that the permanent oversight Committee must be established as soon as possible, because this Committee was beginning to "do things in a particular way" which might be different to the way that the permanent Committee decided to operate.

The Chair agreed. She stated that the Report should include a request that the establishment process be expedited.

Dr Woods said that a detailed breakdown was needed of the large amount allocated to legal fees of R543 514 for 2005-06. The legal costs would not be for cases in which the Auditor-General was defending himself against charges relating to audits, but rather involved withholding Arms Deal information from people who had sought it.

The Chair replied that the Auditor-General was bound to defend his Office, and would not want the Committee to engage in a discussion with the Office of the Auditor-General as to the basis of the legal advice. She stated that it was absolutely critical that the Auditor-General be able to defend himself because the allegations regarding the withholding of information on the Arms Deal were very serious.

Dr Woods stated that he accepted the Chair’s ruling, but disagreed with her.

The meeting was adjourned.


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