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Public finances under spotlight

by Lesotho Times
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OAG spokesperson Matsepo Mohau

OAG spokesperson Matsepo Mohau

Bereng Mpaki

MEMBERS of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Office of Auditor General (OAG) have received training on the presentation of simplified public accounts reports that could be easily understood by the public.

An international consultant, Kenneth Dye conducted the training programme on behalf of the African Development Bank (ADB) which was also aimed at enhancing accountability on the use of public finances.

The target is to advance the work of the PAC to meet best international practices by the end of next year.

Mr Dye worked as Auditor General in the North American nation of Canada from 1981 to 1991.

He told the Lesotho Times that presenting the public accounts reports in simplified and minimalist terms was the best way of ensuring they would be understood by the general public who were the actual owners of the funds.

“I am here on an African Development Bank grant to strengthen the capabilities of the Public Accounts Committee. This is because other countries have moved ahead faster than Lesotho in accountability, transparency and good governance,” Mr Dye said, adding, “My job is to advance the Lesotho PAC operations to meet best international practices by 2017”.

The members were trained on writing better reports, focusing on the big picture and fixing important problems. They were also taught how to do follow up reports, conduct more effective meetings and hearings as well as reaching out to stakeholders.

He said there was no need to use technical language and make lengthy reports if people were to generate interest in the reports.

“Currently, the PAC reports tend to be lengthy and expressed in technical terms. This makes it difficult for ordinary people to understand the basic message being conveyed in the reports, and as a result people tend to pay little attention to such reports,” adding that “Both PAC and OAG participants are eager to achieve constructive change.”

He said the participants had been taught to reduce a document with over 100 pages to just two pages and if all went according to plan then the next PAC report for the 2014/15 financial year would be presented under the new guidelines.

He said after training, the next step would include among other things, the publication of the PAC Guide for Oversight of Public Expenditure, review of the progress made and implementation of a total of 27 recommendations for improving PAC effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the Information Officer at the Office of the Auditor General Matsepo Mohau commended the training exercise, saying Mr Dye would help to improve the effectiveness of the PAC reports as well help the PAC to appreciate the operations of the OAG.

“With the vast knowledge he has in auditing systems, we are hopeful that when the project is complete, both the PAC and the OAG will have found more effective ways of presenting the public accounts reports to the public,” she said.

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