Responsibilities and powers of the Auditor General are laid down in the Constitution and the Audit Act. Pursuant to Article 212, the Auditor General is responsible for auditing and reporting on financial statements of the following entities;
- all government ministries, departments, offices and agencies;
- all offices and organisations operating under the legislative authority;
- Independent Commissions and Independent Offices established in accordance with the Constitution and law and all offices operating under the same; and
- all offices and organisations operating under the judicial authority.
In addition to auditing and reporting on the financial statements of the above entities, the AG also has a mandate to report on the financial management of the audited entities and has the power to conduct audits of institutions and organisations required to be audited by law. According to the Constitution, the AG also has a discretionary mandate to audit any institution primarily funded by the State and any business entity in which the State owns shares.
While the Constitution is silent on the AG’s power to conduct performance audits, the Audit Act 2007 gives the AG the discretion to conduct performance audits of the following entities:
- ministries, departments, government offices and other government institutions;
- state-owned enterprises and business entities in which the government holds a controlling interest; and
- government trusts or trusts under the care of the government
Currently AGO carries out the following type of Audits:
- Financial Statement Audit ; and
- Compliance and Special Audit
Despite having the authority to conduct performance audits of certain entities, the AG has not carried out any performance audits to date owing to lack of expertise and adequate human resources. However, starting from 2014, the AGO plans to conduct performance audits as part of the capacity development drive undertaken through a grant assistance from the World Bank. For further development of performance auditing in the Maldives and for the long-term sustainability of the project, the AG needs a clear and definite legal mandate to conduct performance audit.
Thus, the AG is seeking a broader legal mandate through a new audit bill that will give him the authority to conduct performance audits covering all agencies, offices, departments and institutions operating under the executive, the legislative and the judicial powers of the State as existing legal provisions pertaining to public audit are not clear on whether the AG can conduct performance audits of entities operating under the legislative and judicial powers of the State.
While the conduct of audits forms the bulk of the work carried out by the Auditor General to discharge his legal mandate, the AG is also charged with responsibilities other than conducting audits of financial statements. Audit Act 2007 makes it mandatory upon the Auditor General to promulgate auditing standards and prescribe standards of best practice governing the audit in the Maldives. In addition, section 5(j) of the Act also gives the AG the power to issue and cancel audit licences of private auditors and to set rules and regulations governing the issuing and cancellation of audit licences of private auditors.
Pursuant to Articles 120 and 138, the President and each of his cabinet members shall submit a statement of all property and monies owned by them, business interests and all assets and liabilities to the Auditor General. In addition, members of some independent commissions are required by the Constitution to submit the same to the Auditor General. While the Constitution and law do not assign any specific responsibility to the Auditor General as the regards the asset declarations submitted by public officials, the implicit assumption is that the AG has to vet these based on a certain criteria. Therefore, vetting of asset declarations is included as part of the AG’s responsibilities