Established on the 1 July 1996 as the Office of Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit under the PERCA Act 1995/96, the Cook Islands Audit Office exists as a constitutional safeguard to maintain the financial integrity of the country's parliamentary system of government.
The following provides a brief look at the Cook Islands Audit Office:
History and Background
Since internal self-government in 1965 and up to the early 1890s, the Cook Islands Government audit was carried out and controlled by the New Zealand administration from Wellington. The Office of the Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand had the responsibility of signing-off the annual accounts under the cash accounting concept. Over time, this has changed; various private sector organisations such as KPMG (Peat Marwick) and Horwath & Co have carried out this task up to 30 June 1996. The enactment of the PERCA Act 1995-1996 on the 1 July 996 established that the Office of the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit shall be the Government Auditor. The origin and developent of the local Audit Office was implemented as earlyl as 1983 under the Public Money and Stores Act and later the Office of the Audit and Inquiries.
The Audit Office exists as a constitutional safeguard to maintain the financial integrity of the country's parliamentary system of government.
The Audit Office is independent of the executive branch of government.
The Audit Office's role is to assist Parliament to strengthen the Effectiveness, Efficiency and Accountability of the instruments of government.
The role is discharged by providing reports on whether governmental activitries are carried out, accounted for, in the manner consistent with Parliament's intention.
"The Audit Office is to provide an independent assessment to Parliaent on the Crown's finances, resources and other interests of the Cook Islands".
The Audit Office of the Cook Islands adopted the established standards applied by the Office of the Auditor General of New Zealand and Audit New Zealand. The generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) promulgated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand are applied by the Audit Office.
- To ensure that the Crown consolidated financial statements are audited and tabled in Parliament. to complete the financial audits of all Ministries, Crown Funded Agencies, Island Governments and State Owned Enterprises.
- To complete special reviews and investigations and audit donor aid funds and projects.
- To fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the Public Expenditure Review Committee (PERC) in accordance with the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit Act 1995-96.
Parliament and Public will be confident that all Departments, Offices of Executives Government and other Public, Statutory or local authorities or bodies will effectivelyl and efficiently record adn report their respective performances based on their financial and operational activities.
Previously, the legislative mandate for Audit was contained under the Office of Audit and Inquiries, Part 2, Section 10-18 of the Public Money and Stores Act 1987. This legislation was repealed when the PERCA and MFEM Acts were enacted in July 1996 as a result of Government's reform programme.
The statutory mandate for the function of the Audit Office is enshrined in the Constitution of the Cook Islands, under Article 71 and the Office of Public Expenditure Committee and Audit Act 1995/96, Part 3.
The Director of Audit performs the functions assigned to him by law, with the assistance of staff and of persons appointed by him in terms of Section 21 and 24 of the Office of Public Expenditure Review Committee and Audit Act 1995/96.
The Public Expenditure Review Committee (PERC)
The Public Expenditure Review Committee headed by a Chairperson and two Committee members are private sector professionals in the areas of law, accounting and commerce. The terms, conditions, functions and responsibilities are covered under Part 2 of the PERCA Act 1995/96. The powers and reporting functions of the Committee is covered under Section 15 and 16 of the PERCA Act 1995/96.
The Committee's principal role is to ensure adequate public accountability of the Crown Transaction, interests, and any legitimate issues of public concern that affect the management of public funds is reported to Parliament.
The current members serving on the Committee are:
- Geoff Stoddart - Chairperson
- Heinz Matysik - Member
- Joseph Caffery - Member