Cyprus Mail

‘Changes to audit service not needed, disallowed by Constitution’ (update 2)

Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides

Any changes to the way the Audit Service is run as suggested by Akel are not only not needed but could take the service in the wrong direction, the service said in an announcement on Sunday.

General secretary of Akel Andros Kyprianou had suggested the service be remodelled to be headed by a three-member court of auditors.

The auditor general will discuss the matter at a meeting on Monday with Kyprianou, which had been requested by the latter.

In a Tweet on Sunday Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides said “I will exercise all my constitutional rights to protect the independence of the service, both against the executive and against political parties whose economic situation and other parametres we check (eg PEP co-op loans”.

The service’s announcement said that within Europe there are three types of higher auditing authorities, which have their roots in the French system, the English system and the German system.

It said these models either have one person at the top or a collective organ.

Sixty two per cent of audit services in Europe have the same model as Cyprus, the statement said, where one person heads the authority.

Kyprianou had said most countries in the EU have a council that heads the system. “The wisdom of many is safer than the wisdom of one,” he said.

Any proposed change to the system, “is not only wrong but is not allowed by the constitution,” it said.

As one of the foundations of the constitution the service cannot be altered even with the majority backing of 38 MPs as Akel claims, the service said.

“We emphasise that, as the full plenary session of the Supreme Court has explicitly explained since 1992, the impossibility of amending the fundamental articles of the Constitution precludes changes by amendment, addition or repeal,” the statement said.

The service has over the last few years with the help of its counterpart from the UK worked towards improving itself to provide a service of professional excellence.

“Transparency, compliance with international standards, and the introduction of quality controls and procedures have been fully implemented in recent years,” the service said.

Joining the debate, Disy chief Averof Neophytou said it had long been the party’s view that decisions of independent officials and authorities are of better quality and ensure more objectivity if they are the result of collective decisions.“This is our timeless position regardless of whether parties in opposition today share it,” he said adding he had no problem working with Akel or any other political party to make reforms that would protect the objectivity of independent authorities and institutions.

The Green Party-Citizen’s Alliance said they had made a similar suggestion several years ago which was not backed by Akel or Disy.

“Is this proposal another attempt by the two parties to intimidate the Auditor General? Does the ruling party use this suggestion to silence the Auditor General? Are some people afraid of the findings of the Auditor General’s investigation into the dark loans of the Co-op?” the parties asked in a statement on Sunday.

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