Country Report Central African Republic October 1998 Main report

Economy: A government audit unit is established

An auditor's office has been established. This should deliver improved accountability and could prove useful in monitoring privatisation, to ensure that assets are not sold at knock-down prices to allies of the government. However, the effectiveness of the office will depend on its ability to maintain a degree of independence from politicians and interest groups, and acquire the public clout to secure sensitive information and force the authorities to act when irregularities are revealed. That is a tall order. In Uganda there is a public ombudsman who has developed a degree of power -- for example, forcing the government to retreat on a controversial hotel privatisation -- but he owes his effectiveness partly to the fact that he has been given the highly public backing of President Yoweri Museveni. It seems unlikely that Mr Patasse will be unstinting in his support for the CAR's new audit office. Moreover, unless it has sufficient staff and financial resources, and the power of subpoena, the audit unit's ability to dig out information will be limited; in Uganda a shortage of resources has hampered the ombudsman's work. The audit unit's most effective allies could be the press and parliamentarians. If they provide information, ask questions and discuss the unit's findings, the institution will gain in influence.

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