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Auditor general to play key role in  preventing govt spending sprees, populist policies: Meechai

May 09. 2017
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By The Nation

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The new organic law on the role and responsibilities of the auditor general would see the office acquiring new authority in preventing excessive government spending and populist policies, a Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) seminar on the law heard on Tuesday.

Meechai Ruchupan, head of the CDC, said that if the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) were not strict about the spending of the government budget, taxpayers’ money would be exploited in the wrong way and yield no benefit for the people.

If any agents are found committing such a crime, they should face the consequences, he said. On the other hand, those who pursue policies properly, but with unexpected, costly mistakes made in the process, should be immune, Meechai said.

The CDC, he told the seminar, was trying to make the law serve the purpose of preventing the exploitation of public funds, so it needed to give an assurance to people who worked hard and honestly that they would not have to face the consequences if they did not deserve such treatment.

The CDC would write into the law that the OAG should at the initial stage be responsible for scrutinising spending in governmental agencies to see whether it is lawful, Meechai said. 

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) would then take the baton by investigating on the basis of financial reports provided by the OAG, he explained.

The CDC is seeking to ensure that the OAG’s work does not overlap that of the NACC, otherwise the bureaucratic system might be in danger, the veteran law-writer stressed.

Pisit Leelawachiropas, the incumbent auditor general, added that the current Constitution also prescribed that the OAG could report to the State Audit Commission if it found evidence of any excessive spending in government policies in an attempt to win public popularity. 

In addition, the same report could be submitted to the NACC and the Election Commission, so as to hold the violator or violators accountable, he told the seminar.

The OAG also had the authority to recall financial damages from violators even if no victims came forward, he added.

Moreover, Pisit proposed that the OAG should have the authority to bring cases to court, and that crime related to excessive and unnecessary government spending should be punishable also by administrative penalties – in addition to civil and criminal penalties.

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