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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in an interview this morning explained why Parliament recently amended – albeit unanimously – the Constitution to extend the Chief Auditor’s term in office from three to 12 years – among other changes.
“The Chief Auditor plays a critical role in the good governance principles of accountability and transparency and effectiveness of the public service,” said Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
“He is expected to provide honest, comprehensive, prudent and objective reports directly to Parliament – not to Government. The two conditions, namely, Security of Tenure of the Appointment and reporting directly to Parliament ensure complete independence of the Audit Office.
“Thus, Parliament has to assure the Auditor General’s office operates with the highest degree of independence. That he (Auditor General) works without fear or favour. This freedom and independence also has to be held in good stead, with respect and good faith by Parliament and the public we are, ultimately, all accountable to. Put simply, he not only has to be independent but has to be seen to be independent.
“And that is the whole basis of this constitutional amendment.
“By extending the office holder’s term from three to 12 years, he works through inter- parliamentary terms which, therefore, will not be influenced by the government-of-the-day. At the end of his 12-year term, there is no chance of contract renewal and is prohibited from working in the public service.
“This provision avoids any chance of the office holder seeking favours for a government job when his term runs out.
“Extending states’ chief auditors’ terms of office is a universally recommended and accepted practice pushing to promote the efficiency, independence and effectiveness of government chief auditors.
Asked to comment about some criticism of the amendment coming from particular parts of the local media, the Prime Minister said;
“Those people are completely clueless and ignorant of the reality of running a good and efficient government continuing to apply good governance practice to the public sector. The Parliamentarians understand it and that is why they unanimously supported the amendment. It is to strengthen the audit office and, in effect, improve the reporting systems and scrutiny of the public service. Obviously these media personalities do not understand that.
“But I hope they continue to bring it up as I am always happy to continue to lecture them.”

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