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Old December 4th, 2009, 04:36 AM   #1
pearl river
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Fatima Choi regrets lack of Assembly’s support

Fatima Choi, a great civil servant, thank you for your service

Fatima Choi regrets lack of Assembly’s support
04/12/2009 00:48:00

Fatima Choi: “no department would like to be evaluated”
Audit Commissioner Fatima Choi Mei Lei said the thing that she regretted most during her 10-year term of office is the Legislative Assembly’s inadequate support for audit work and failed to make use of the findings to better supervise the government.
In addition, the commissioner said that she has already completed two internal audit handbooks before she is to be succeeded by chief of the Chief Executive’s Office Ho Veng On on December 20. She also expected that one more audit report can be released before the end of her term.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday in her office, the Audit Commissioner said that she had “gained a lot and did not lose anything” in her post.
She said that she was happy about having had the opportunity to serve the people, made friends with good colleagues, learned a lot of new things as well as received the recognition and support from the general public.
However, it was inevitable to experience unhappy incidents at the same time. Choi said that she regretted most the lack of support from the legislature, which did not fully make use of the audit findings to oversee the government.
Recalling the time when she was invited by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah to take the job as the Audit Commissioner, she said that she had once worried that she might not have the capability to establish a whole new department.
Although it was hard to complete the task, Choi said that there were advantages since a brand new department would not have the “bad habits” an old department usually had.
The commissioner said that she had always believed that “conduct” was very important in the audit profession. She told reporters she spent quite a lot of efforts 10 years ago in finding the suitable candidates to join the team.
There was no audit department before the 1999 handover, and people’s awareness of audit was very limited. Macau at that time was not only short of auditors, but also accountants, she recalled.
“People with accounting or audit qualification did not necessarily have administrative experience, and those with administrative experience didn’t necessarily have the knowledge of accounting or audit,” she said.
According to the commissioner, the Audit Commission was not welcomed within the government as “no department would like to be evaluated”.
Choi said that every time when a department did not cooperate or used some “unjustified reasons” to argue against the audit reports, she would be upset and even could not sleep well. Yet she added that she would first review herself whether she had done something wrong, and if it was not the commission’s mistakes, “the reactions from the departments could still be understood”.
Meanwhile, the Audit Commissioner said that a lot of audit agencies in the world would cooperate closely with the legislative bodies so that the governments could be more effectively monitored.
However during the past decade whenever after the Audit Commission completed a report, she said that “the Legislative Assembly only made a few small voices and afterwards the matter was being put aside, which minimised the effects of the commission’s work”.
She also said that the most important thing was the support from the Chief Executive who also never gave the Audit Commission “any pressure”.
On the other hand, based on the international trend, the commissioner said that the audit work of Macau will need to cover the scope of environment - the fourth “E” - in the future.
At present, audit work mainly looks at three “Es” - Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness.
An environmental audit therefore is about whether a department has damaged the environment or violated environmental regulations when implementing and supervising public infrastructure projects.
Choi stressed that an environmental audit is not to investigate whether participating enterprises or institutes had caused pollution, but is to find out which department should shoulder the responsibility when the environment is being damaged.
However, she said that Macau does not have sufficient primary legislation to introduce such kind of audit at this stage, adding that relevant suggestions can be made based on the existing legal foundation.
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