Proposed Constitutional amendments to render NAO more effective

The National Audit Office (NAO) has presented to the Office of the President proposals for Constitutional amendments related to the work of the NAO. In a press statement, the National Audit Office said the aim of the report is to render the National Audit Office more effective to address emerging issues and challenges and in view of the office’s role in contributing to good governance across the public sector.

Amongst the amendments put forward the NAO is proposing that the Auditor General or any person authorised by him shall have the right to audit all the Ministries, departments and offices of the Government of Malta including the Office of the President, the House of Representatives, and the Superior and Inferior Courts of Malta.

The NAO is also proposing that the Auditor General shall also have the right to audit any persons or corporate bodies as well as public authorities, agencies which make use of public funds.

The report says that the Auditor General should have the discretion not to affect an audit when so requested if the subject-matter of the audit is lacking in materiality or represents no risk to public funds.

Another proposal is for the Auditor General or any person authorised by him shall have the right to obtain information from any recipients of public funds in relation to any audit undertaken by the Office.

Moreover, the NAO is proposing that the identity of the person who discloses information to the National Audit Office shall not be disclosed.

Other proposals include; no civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against the Auditor General or any officers of the National Audit Office in respect of acts connected to the performance of their duties.

Another proposal concerns the appointment of a new Auditor General where the NAO is proposing that if at the end of the tenure of the office of the Auditor General or the Deputy Auditor General both offices are vacant, the incumbent officers shall hold office until the successor is appointed for not longer than one year. Provided there is no incumbent officer the most senior officer shall become chief executive officer and shall only be responsible for the administration of the Office until the appointment of an Auditor General.

The report by the NAO states that the office has come across several instances whereby the legislation of certain government authorities or bodies provide the office of the Auditor General with additional tasks. To avoid this situation the NAO is recommending that whenever any additional responsibilities are assigned to the Auditor General and his Office, the Auditor General should be consulted.

The National Audit Office said that the proposed Constitutional amendments were presented as part of the consultation process launched by the Office of the President in connection with the reform of the Constitution.