The Legislative Assembly has unanimously approved the Annual Report of the Tonga Office of the Auditor General (TOAG) for the financial year ended 30th June, 2022.
17 MPs who were present in Parliament yesterday and passed TOAG’s annual report.
The Speaker of Parliament, Lord Fakafanua tabled the report for discussion in the House last week. It was met with strong resistance from the opposition who argued that the information provided in the annual report was incomplete as it fails to provide the summaries of the financial and compliance audit making their debate more meaningful.
In respond, the Lord Speaker pointed out that the report clearly stated that a special report of the Financial and Compliance Audit report 2021/2022 will be submitted to Parliament in due course.
TOAG’s annual report also noted that one of its significant achievements is the laying down of the Auditor General’s independence in the supreme law of the nation, the Constitution of Tonga. This was through an amendment to the Constitution of Tonga (Amendment) Act 2021, which his Majesty King Tupou VI gave his royal assent to on 29th July 2021.
This is requirement of the INTOSAI-PI standard, (the Lima Declaration), that the independence of SAI and its members be laid down in the Constitution with details in the legislation, (Public Audit Act) to minimise the threat of legislative revisions. The laying down of independence in the Constitution of Tonga enriches the accomplishment of our tasks objectively and credibility knowing that the Constitution protects us from outside influence.
The audit opinion of the Financial Statements of Government for the year ended 30th June, 2022 was completed and iissued on 23rd February, 2023. It provides a qualified audit opinion based on two account areas; (i) Cash and Cash Equivalent, and (ii) Property Plant and Equipment. The audit conclusion reached was similar with prior financial year, 2020-21, financial statements.
It was also noted in TOAG’s annual report that two catastrophic event of the Hunga-Tonga and Hunga-Ha'apai’s volcanic and the COVID-19 pandemic, occurred during this financial period which bboth impacted all of Tonga.
MPs were also informed that despite the adverse effects of the natural disaster and the pandemic on TOAG’s working hours, they continued delivering the audit services in accordance to its Complete Annual Plan 2021-22.
“We delivered independent and objective audit reports and advice to the Legislative Assembly, the Government, and the community. The focus as stated in our vision, is to improve the Government public sector integrity, accountability, and transparency.”
TOAG’s Office also delivered financial and compliance audits and advisory services as planned for the year 2021-22. The Auditor Generals’ Office completed the audits of 65 audit units, (in Line Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, MDAs, Tongatapu and outer islands), 33 financial statements audits, 17 Constituencies Fund, 54 audit certifications and 2 audit advisory service.
TOAG also raised and issued 719 recommendations, the remedial actions for managements to consider and for appropriate action.
The TOAG's primary role is to provide independent report, assurance and advice to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on how government and other public bodies account for and use public money and public resources.
The role is discharged by carrying out audits and report on whether government activities are carried out and accounted for consistent with applicable legislation, accounting and auditing standards, and achieve or otherwise the intended outcomes.