Thu. Feb 20th, 2020

OPA says budget act “injurious, undermines” operations

Public Auditor Saturnino Tewid requested President Remengesau to protect the original budget of the Office of Public Auditor and its independence in a letter issued on May 31st.

FY 2018 supplemental budget bill recently passed Olbiil Era Kelulau and sent to President Remengesau Jr. for his approval, reduced OPA’s budget by $100,000, cutting it down from $632,000 to $532,000.

In his letter, Public Auditor Tewid said that the proposed reduction is “untimely and injurious, undermining OPA’s operations” and will cause OPA to overspend its budget which would be in violation of the law.

According to Tewid, OPA has been operating based on RPPL 10-12 which authorized and appropriated funds of $632,000 for its operations and to hire new auditors to conduct State audits.

Hiring more people have necessitated need for more space resulting in higher costs of both personnel and office space, according to the letter.  In addition, as this year’s host of the Association of Pacific Islands Auditors, cutting of $100,000 will put them over budget by estimated $70,000.

With four months remaining in the fiscal year, Public Auditor Tewid lamented that the budget slash is “injurious” to OPA and will force them to go over budget in violation of the law.

OEK’s committee report on the supplemental budget states that the cut of $100,000 from OPA’s budget is in response to its failure to complete state government audits in a timely manner and transferred that responsibility to the Ministry of Finance.