Lawmaker urges Audit Commission to review government companies

The role of the Government’s Audit Commission is to supervise the performance of publicly-funded companies, lawmakers Leong Sun Iok and Ella Lei told a press conference yesterday.

The lawmakers noted that the commission’s job description includes reviewing the performance of entities of which at least half have their annual budgets paid by the government.

The commission is entitled to audit the assets, liabilities, profits or losses, as well as other accounts of those companies. It can audit company efficiencies and cost effectiveness.

The lawmakers have sent a letter to the commission, urging it to work in accordance with its job description and audit the accounts and performance of those companies.

Both Leong and Lei believe that such scrutiny will improve transparency and build a foundation for future analysis and investigation.

Both lawmakers are of the position that the government should publicize the existence of affiliated companies, in addition to procurement procedures, financial management, capital investment and how profit is used.

A government report stated that, as of the end of 2018, there were 13 publicly-funded companies, which ran on a total investment of 9.3 billion patacas. Meanwhile, Sonia Chan, director of the Office for the Planning of Supervision over Public Assets, a new entity created by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng when he took office last year, revealed that the number of publicly funded companies had risen to 23.

The scrutiny would only apply to companies in which the government holds more than a 50% stake. For other companies operating with non-government controlled investments, such as Air Macau, the government may not have legal authority over them.

In the long run, both lawmakers agree that legislation is the only way forward. Although the Chief Executive has inaugurated a new office, it has no legal oversight authority. Legislation is thus needed to empower the office to conduct effective work. AL

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