Delegates across the sub-region and beyond are taking part in the fourth conference and Annual General Meeting of the West African Association of Public Accounts Committees (WAAPAC), which opened yesterday at the Ocean Bay hotel in Cape Point.
The week-long conference and AGM brought together members of public accounts committees of the various parliaments across West Africa and beyond.
In his official opening statement, Abdou Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs said the constitution of the second republic of The Gambia, mandates the finance and public accounts committee and the public enterprises committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly to convene annually, to consider audited accounts of the government and the annual activity reports and audited financial statements of public enterprises.
These joint PAC/PEC sittings, he added, are held to ensure transparency, probity and openness in all public institutions, by holding the executive and management of public entities responsible and accountable for the actions of their institutions such that desirable results are achieved in an efficient, effective and professional manner.
“The proactive nature of the committee, and their determination in safeguarding public resources and institutions, serves as an inspiration for the various heads of these institutions to work even harder, to ensure that the institutions they run are and remain viable”, he added.
According to Kolley, transparency and accountability are not only values of a vibrant democracy, but also spiritual as every manager will be held o account for that which he or she managed.
H noted that, as such, PACs are not to witch-hunt any person or institution, but to ensure in a professional and impartial manner, that those to whom public funds have been entrusted, properlyand adequately account for the effective utilization of those funds.
‘It is your role as PACs not only to identify weaknesses or malpractices in the administration of public resources, but also proffer advice and recommendations on how to improve the systems and processes to avoid or minimize such occurrence,’ he stated.
He told delegates that here in The Gambia, the PAC/PEC benefit from the support and expertise of subject matter specialists.
Abdoulie Bojang, Speaker of the National Assembly, said there is growing evidence that public financial management is increasingly facing huge challenges in everyday governance.
Therefore, he added, strengthening the powers and practices of public accounts committees will enable parliamentarians to be better poised in performing lawful oversight over public financial management and the public service delivery and public policy.
“As parliamentarians, it is our function to perform in all public services for and on behalf of the tax payers”, he emphasized.
Senator Edward B. Dagoseh, chairman of WAAPAC, said the oversight of public funds is one of the most important roles members of parliament perform, on behalf of their constituents and taxpayers.
He said as taxes and revenues are identified and paid to government, the citizens become quite confident that the executive will spend the money appropriately, with proper regard to value for money.
According to him, it is the role of members of parliament, through the PAC, to scrutinize the way the executive operates with the funds, and to hold it to account where performance falls short.