The newly appointed Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will start executing its duties at 9.30am on Monday next week when it will conduct the first hearing with officials from the Ministry of Finance and Department of Customs and Inland Revenue.
Speaking to the local media yesterday, PAC Chairman and Luganville Member of Parliament (MP) Matai Seremaiah confirmed the Committee will scrutinise how funds for the Yumi 40 or Vanuatu’s 40th Independence celebrations were spent in Port as questioned by the public and also spending on the trip for the 130-member government delegation to the recent PENAMA anniversary celebrations on Ambae.
“We are not here to throw people into hot water, rather our responsibilities are to make sure that funds appropriated by the national parliament are spent in the way they are projected for,” Mr Seremaiah said.
“Our role is to ensure the Executive and all government ministries, departments and agencies are accountable for the annual budgets appropriated by parliament to benefit the country and the people.
“We have the duty to present reports and recommendations of findings on expenditure and revenue of the government and how it benefits the people of Vanuatu to the national parliament at the end of each year.”
The hearing will be open to the public and will be held at the Parliamentary rotunda.
The chairman said he is pleased with the composition of the current committee with four Opposition MPs and three Government MPs.
He said the new Committee is solid because it is made of seven MPs who are all business minded with strong business and private sector background and are also well-versed in government and public sector matters, especially in finance.
“The Vice-chairman is Gaetan Pikioune, the former Minister of Finance and Economic Management, we have Ambrym MP John Salong who has a strong business, finance and economic background, as well as MP Marcellino Barthelemy, MP Anatol Hymak, MP Samson Samsen and MP Anthony Harry,” said Chairman Seremaiah.
“We know one another and believe we have a team that will deliver to both the national parliament, the government and public expectations.”
The PAC’s key responsibilities are:
1. To examine the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the Republic of Vanuatu including the Financial Statement transmitted to the Auditor-General in accordance with Section 25 of the Public Finance and Economic Management Act No. 6 of 1998 and Section 27 of the Expenditure and Audit Act No. 3 of 1998, as amended;
2. To examine the financial affairs of authorities of the Republic of Vanuatu and of the intergovernmental bodies to which these Acts apply;
3. To examine all reports of the Auditor-General (including reports of the results of efficiency audit) copies of which have been laid before Parliament;
4. To report to parliament as to what corrective actions have been undertaken or planned to be undertaken by Government to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the funds appropriated by Parliament have been expended;
5. To report to Parliament, with such comments as it thinks fit, any items or matters in those accounts, statements, and reports or any circumstances connected with them, to which the committee is of the opinion that the attention of the parliament should be directed;
6. To inquire into any question in connection with public accounts which is referred to it by Parliament, and to report to Parliament upon that questions;
7. To report to parliament any amendment as it thinks fit in matters related to the management, collection, control, issue or payment of public funds;
8. To enquire and examine matters related to tax measures, appropriation bills and publicly-owned financial corporations with financial vocations;
To consider financial bills and estimates and report to Parliament;
9. To consider annual reports of Government Ministries and report to Parliament;
10. To receive briefings or initiate inquiries into matters related to subject areas of the Committee;
11. To consider any order made by a Minister under an enactment related to the subject area of the Committee;
12. To consider any matter, business and question as may be referred by Parliament from time to time; and
13. Include such other duties as assigned to the Committee by the Standing Orders approved by Parliament.