MONTEGO BAY — Prime Minister Hon. Bruce Golding has said that the Auditor General and all the functions attached to that office have been brought sharply into public focus because of the critical importance in the stemming and restoring of public confidence in government and governance.
He was addressing several Auditors General representing some twenty countries at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference on ‘the values and benefits of supreme audit institutions’ at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rose Hall, Montego Bay on August 3.
“The critical role and the functions of government’s audit agencies is something that has been long recognized. It is something that has been entrenched into our constitution which goes back to 1962 …Investors, the creators of economic activity, had a ‘funnel’ of options and no investor would have thought to invest in those days, in Cambodia and Russia and so on. They wanted to invest in countries where they felt comfortable, where capital would be respected, where there was an established rule of law”, the Prime Minister noted.
Pointing out that that was no longer the case, he said that investors today had a wider menu of options as they can invest virtually anywhere in the world.
Referring to an apparent chasm and deficit of confidence in public institutions, the Prime Minister expressed the view that the Auditor General and the functions of that office were ‘an important means of stemming that erosion of confidence and an important building block for restoring such confidence’.
“We have recognized that in Jamaica we have done a number of things which no doubt will be mentioned in the course of your deliberations. We have modernized our financial administrations and not only that but to give it greater strength and greater power. We have for quite some time, ensured that all of those satellites of governments, those agencies that we have created in order to avoid some of the strictures of public sector administrations, to ensure that they are brought within the scope and purview of the Auditor General”, Prime Minister Golding said.
He reiterated that government had addressed and continued to address issues to do with corruption, but that part of the problem was that there was much discretion that was being exercised and that government had created many areas in which discretion had to be exercised.
“It’s going to be difficult for us to go forward. It’s going to be difficult for us to attract the investments that we need. It’s going to be difficult for us to build the confidence that we must build and to create the comfort, not just among investors, but among the people that want to see Jamaica as the place of choice to live, work, raise their families and do business. It is going to be important to convince them that the framework of government is one that will ensure honesty, transparency and accountability.
I wish that during this important conference we will be able to share our experiences as there is so much that I believe that we can learn from you who are visiting us, because there are many challenges that we share’, Mr. Golding said.