The President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades received today at the Presidential Palace the annual report of the Office of the Auditor General for 2018, handed in by Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, in the presence of Government Spokesman Panayotis Sentonas.
Delivering the report, Odysseas Michaelides said amongst other things that the report related to special reviews which form an integral part of the annual report, and include the state audit of 2018 “which was implemented”, as he said, “the same way it was executed in 2017; in a structured way, based on international auditing standards”, while they also include compliance management audits that took place in 2018.
He added that “every report is issued by the time it is ready, and this contributes to both transparency and controlling leakages, but it is also more practical”.
For his part, the President of the Republic, receiving the report, stressed that “I would like to express my appreciation for the work you do; for the faster and periodical reports”, with which we do not have to wait any more until the end of each calendar year to be informed of any possible violations of important rules.
He added that “first and foremost what matters is the public interest you serve and which we are all committed to serving. Sometimes sticking to the rules, despite the fact that they must be adhered to, can, in the sense of some procedures in extraordinary cases, harm the public interest.
I have no doubt that you are always honest and straightforward in the performance of your duties. What I want to feel, and I do, is that the institution, every independent institution, objectively, morally, protects its prestige. That is why I would like to once again express my gratitude for the work you are doing.
Meanwhile, I must tell you that I have thoroughly studied your request for the report on the subject of the President’s travels, and by 15 January at the latest – and I apologize for that – you will have my own observations. Unfortunately, my burdensome schedule has not allowed me to be consistent with the obligation before, but I feel that by January 15 at the latest you will have a full view of the Presidency’s views on the report you have prepared.
I want to believe that close cooperation, not only with the Presidency, but with all institutions, can only contribute to even more sound financial management, and this is the most important thing of all.
What counts is what the public interest dictates; how we prevent the wasting of public money; how we prevent scandalous actions from anyone and in any way, and this way, I believe, we create the prospects and conditions for a state truly governed by the law”.
Following the meeting, Odysseas Michaelides addressed the press underlining that there are still some pathogens in the way public money is managed in regards to some issues that took place in 2018, such as the closure of the Co-operative and other issues included in the report, like, for example, public contracts, how to handle issues by Ministries or semi-governmental organizations.
He added, however, that improvement has been recorded, though “there is still room for growth”.
When asked, Mr. Michaelides noted that the Audit Office had decided to focus its management controls on the productivity of Ministries and Public Service Departments.
In another question, Mr. Michaelides stressed that there were two cases in which the Office had a different approach from the way some Ministries handled various situations, citing the issue of the Vasilikos liquefaction plant. He noted, however, that “disagreement is not a bad thing, but rather an element of democracy”.
In another question, the Auditor General said that “the character of our Service is that it cannot prevent any project from being implemented. We proceed to recommendations and that is the way it should be; because if the Audit Office’s recommendations were binding, it would mean that the Office would replace the Government, which would be unacceptable”.
Finally, to a question regarding the Presidency’s response to the issue of the President’s travels, Mr. Michaelides responded that “the Presidency’s response will come before January 15, and when it does the Office will take a few days to prepare the report, which, after being finalized, will be forwarded to the auditee”, while adding that it will be publicized by the end of January. /ibna