The Royal Audit Authority
The proposal to establish an Audit Authority was made during the 16th National Assembly in 1961. However, the Royal Audit Authority of Bhutan was established in 1969 during the 31st Session of the National Assembly. Subsequently, a Royal Kasho appointed Auditors and defined and authorized the jurisdiction of the Royal Audit Department in 1970.
Recognizing the growing importance of an Audit Authority in ensuring economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources, the Constitution has enshrined the Royal Audit Authority as a constitutional office. Through the functions of the Audit, the Government is held accountable to taxpayers, in the management of public funds and services. It must ensure that funds are properly raised, protected from loss and spent with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, for the purposes approved by Parliament. Government programs should be managed in a manner, which represents value of money for the taxpaying community.
His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo decreed that:
“At a time when we are establishing parliamentary democracy in the country, it is very important to promote good governance, increase the accountability of the civil service and root out corruption at its initial stage. Towards this end, the highest importance must be given to further strengthening the functions and responsibilities of the Royal Audit Authority in keeping with the provisions under the Constitution.
“The Auditor General must carry out his responsibilities with utmost loyalty and dedication in the interest of the Government and the people, unaffected by any consideration for those in position of power and influence, and showing no discrimination whatsoever, in the line of his work. The Royal Audit Authority must carry out its responsibilities by conducting proper and timely audits of public funds utilized by the ministries, departments, corporations and other organizations of the Royal Government. In order to stop corruption and check the misuse and wastage of public funds to ensure their proper utilization for the benefit of the public, the Auditor General is authorized to audit any person in Bhutan, regardless of status or position, in the course of discharging his important responsibilities.” 165
Their Majesties during the public consultation meetings mentioned that:
(a) The Royal Audit Authority (RAA), Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have a very big responsibility. All the three have their Acts drafted. It is very important to make it such that corruption never crops up in Bhutan. It is very important from the beginning and not only now but any time, even during our children’s time to eradicate the system of offering and accepting bribe. In other countries, one of the biggest inconveniences has emerged is due to bribery. If we can prevent bribery, it will benefit a lot in achieving the ultimate interests of our Government and people. For example, it is like a disease. If our body is inflicted with a dangerous disease, it is very difficult to remove it. Likewise, if corruption takes root into our system and happens to exist for a long time, it is very difficult to eradicate it even if we attempt to remove in future. That is why, the responsibility to eradicate corruption from our country, from the beginning lies not only on the Government, ministers and the Druk Gyalpo alone, but on all the citizens from all the 20 Dzongkhags. It is very important to eradicate fraud from our country at all times”. 166
(b) Corruption has become the root cause of suffering of the people and has even destroyed Governments. Not only in one or two countries but also in many countries, be it big or small, the major form of corruption is through taking and giving bribe. Once the bad system of corruption gets into the country, it is very difficult to get rid of it. Like any dangerous disease, if we do not take precaution, then it is very difficult to cure such disease. I really get worried when I hear about such things. It is very important to eradicate the evil practices of corruption with the joint effort of our people from now only. I can’t say whether we can fully eradicate corruption but it is very important for every one of us to shoulder the responsibilities and work hand in hand to eradicate corrupt practices. This responsibility is not only upon one or two people or even just a Government but it is the joint responsibility of every one of us. This responsibility is cast equally upon businessmen, gups, chimis, students and every one of us including myself. Therefore, it is very important to bear in mind the evils of corruption and work towards eradicating such evils from the very beginning itself. Even in other meetings, I have talked about it. Our country is a religious country and every act is guided by compassion and sympathy. The first and the foremost thing is to get hold of people who indulge in such corrupt practices. We have different place for sympathy. If such people are caught, then they should not be treated sympathetically. In fact, it is very important to deal with such people with the laws very strictly. From the very beginning, we should neither accept bribe nor bribe others. So, it is very important for all of us to shoulder the responsibility to fully eradicate corrupt practices from our country later on. Our king has handed over our country in a very stable and in good form. And if we indulge in bribery and corrupt practices, then we will definitely regret later on.167
Every citizen must play one’s part in the realization of a true democracy with a corruption free society. The Royal Audit Authority is mandated “to audit and report on the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of public resources” by the Constitution. Parliament should take cognizance of the reports of the Royal Audit Authority. Challenges beckon innovation to work ceaselessly towards the new approaches to auditing and harnessing evolving technology.
With power and authority being decentralized and devolved to elect Government under the Constitution, the Royal Audit Authority must shepherd the public authorities and bodies to comply with the audit requirements. Creation of awareness through dissemination of information and watchful eyes of the Royal Audit Authority will ensure confidence of the people in their elected leaders and compliment the vision of His Majesty to repose trust in the people.
Multifaceted approaches can remedy emerging diverse ills. Sterilized approach to dynamic changes will mutilate an organization and throttle public confidence. The Constitution mandates the institution to protect and render professional service to the nation without fear and favour. The Audit Act symbolizes the aspiration and expectation of “We, the people.” However, the Royal Audit Authority must make the reports reliable, professional, independent and fair. Let conscience be a witness while rendering service to the people in ensuring that every cheltrum of public fund is audited timely and reported accurately and fairly. The reports should abide by the principles of code of ethics, independence, integrity, objectivity and client confidentiality. The auditors are the watchdogs of the Government expenditures. Integrity and good management are assuming greater role and importance. The society has imposed heavy burden on the auditors. They must discharge these responsibilities with utmost dedication, determination and enthusiasm. Indeed, the Auditor General is the custodian of legitimate expenditure of public funds. Every fund must have maximum benefits and coverage. The Nation owns it.
Contributed by Sonam Tobgye, Thrimchi Lyonpo
To be continued
165 Kasho dated 31st December, 2005.
166 Public consultation in Pemagatshel on 31/12/2005.
167 Public consultation in Samtse on 27/3/2006.