Public Accounts Committee plays important role

It is encouraging to see that, of late, considerable attention has been focused on the good work performed by the Auditor-General's Office (AGO) ("Govt responds to lapses found by AGO"; Aug 17).

Indeed, the AGO, which is accountable directly to Parliament, plays a crucial role in ensuring high standards of governance and the prevention and detection of malpractices in public service.

All the reports, however, make no mention of the important role played by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC).

Annually, the AGO's report is closely scrutinised by the PAC, which is made up of backbench members of Parliament drawn from both ruling and opposition parties.

Following receipt of the AGO's report, many sessions are held by the PAC to evaluate the comments and recommendations made by the AGO.

At the end of such sessions, the PAC will submit a report to Parliament, giving its independent views, more often in support of the AGO's findings and recommendations.

At that time, it may even go further, with its own recommendation extrapolating in a wider context.

Apart from the annual exercise, which also looks into follow-up actions on previous recommendations, the PAC also ensures that the AGO has adequate resources to carry out its mammoth tasks.

The PAC is empowered to summon any individual to assist the committee in its inquiry into any aspect in conjunction with its scrutiny of the AGO's report.

Although the PAC reports, when debated in Parliament, are invariably covered by the media, many members of the public seem oblivious to the relationship between the AGO and the PAC.

A better understanding of the significant role of the PAC will contribute towards greater appreciation of parliamentary democracy at work.

Hwang Soo Jin