National Audit Board Chiefs Dispute Senior Staff Choices

Two months after parliament voted to create the country’s first national auditors to oversee government spending, the three-person panel that runs the auditing board appears divided over controversial appointments of senior staff.

The deputies of the National Auditing Authority, both of them Funcinpec members, complained that their CPP boss abused his authority when he recently appointed a general secretary and deputy general secretary without consulting them first.

“He did not [consult with us], he was doing this arbitrarily and getting along well without us,” said Seng Run, one of the Funcin­pec deputies.

Ut Chhorn, the board’s chief auditor and a CPP member, appointed Chan Tany, legal advi­ser to the prime minister, as general secretary, and Lok Nheb as deputy.

Ut Chhorn refused to comment Tuesday on Seng Run’s allegations, instead referring questions to the National Assembly’s Finance and Banking Commis­sion, which he and his auditors met with Tuesday.

Cheam Yeap, the CPP chairman of the Finance and Banking Commission, said the appointments were made lawfully under Article 21 of the Constitution, which allows senior officials to be appointed by the King at the request of the prime minister.

The appointment of both men was approved by the King at the behest of the prime minister.

But Funcinpec auditors and lawmakers still criticized the chief auditor for what they said was arbitrary leadership and decision-making that lacked transparency.

They cited Article 14 of the auditing law, which they said hands authority for appointments of senior staff to the chief and his deputies.

The controversy arises just two months after the government created the auditing board, one of two requests from international donors at the annual donor meeting in Tokyo in June. The other request was for a UN-assisted tribunal of former Khmer Rouge leaders.

The chief auditor and his deputies do not yet have a shared office or even a headquarters for the auditing authority.

Problems with the board this early in its existence struck at least one legislator as a troubling precedent for the future.

“The leadership is not transparent and independent, and if there’s no such transparency from the beginning, how will people believe in their work to audit the government and others?” asked Funcinpec lawmaker Keo Remy.

 

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