Cyprus Mail

Pushback against House speaker’s opposition to auditing parliament

Opposition Diko said Wednesday it opposed efforts by House President Demetris Syllouris to stop audit service scrutiny by citing the legislature’s financial autonomy.

The matter emerged after the legislature’s director, acting on Syllouris’ behalf, wrote to the auditor on February 7, declining to hand over the necessary information sought by the service at the end of last month.

Citing the amendment of article 167 of the constitution that allowed parliament to draft its own budget starting in 2019, the director argued that they could not hand over the data sought by the auditor as it would be a violation “and would cast doubt over the parliament’s financial autonomy.”

The letter also said parliament will pass legislation establishing its own audit mechanisms to ensure full autonomy.

“The Democratic Party’s position in relation to the House of Representatives audit by the auditor-general is clear,” Diko leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said. “Parliament must be audited by the auditor-general, as all other institutions that handle taxpayer monies.”

Papadopoulos spoke after a meeting with Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides who rejected the arguments raised in the director’s letter.

“I am glad that parties are saying this is not their desire and I believe that from the way the constitution is worded today, as it was amended in July 2019, it is clear to us that the audit service can proceed with the audit, like it has done for many years,” Michaelides said.

Syllouris has not commented on the matter so far, despite taking flak from various quarters over the attempt.

Green party chairman Giorgos Perdikis said Tuesday he found out about the intention to create an in-house audit service through the media.

“I was never informed that parliament will set up an independent audit unit,” he said.

Perdkis said when they voted on having budgetary autonomy, they were told that the audit service would continue to scrutinise the legislature’s finances.

“Who decided on this thing and why in the absence of MPs and parties?”

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