PASAI was in Rarotonga to support the government officials who are responsible for preparing government accounts and for scrutinising those accounts after they are audited.
Key government officials came together to talk about the role of Members of Parliament in overseeing how public funds are spent and the role of the Public Accounts Committee within the Cook Islands Parliamentary processes.
PASAI Advocate Eroni Vatuloka and consultant Siosiua Utoikamanu facilitated the workshop alongside the Cook Islands’ Director of Audit, Mr Allen Parker. Vatuloka came to the Cook Islands at Parker’s invitation.
“The intention of the workshop was to establish and then to continue to build a working relationship with the Committees,” Vatuloka said.
“PASAI is able to bring a regional perspective to their workshops, sharing Pacific-wide experiences and circumstances.”
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rose Brown, opened proceedings by saying the Public Accounts Committee and other MPs would benefit from the workshop in terms of understanding their roles in the financial oversight of government finances.
The workshop was based around presentations and question and answer sessions about PASAI’s newly-released Accountability and Transparency report, about the roles of Public Accounts Committees across the Pacific, and how to read and understand the audit opinions, and the whole-of-government financial statements.
This was the third Public Accounts Committee workshop that PASAI has run under its new advocacy program and they hope to run more across the Pacific.
Key issues raised included the level of participation of the private sector in the scrutiny of government budgets, whether the Public Accounts Committee should engage civil society and non-government organisations, and whether parliament’s independence has an impact on the independence of the Audit Office.
During the week, Vatuloka also held discussions with Minister of Finance Mark Brown, the chairman of PAC and senior government officials.
PASAI is the official association of supreme audit institutions (government audit offices and similar organisations, known as SAIs) in the Pacific region.
The association promotes transparent, accountable, effective, and efficient use of public sector resources in the Pacific.