Parliament elects new general auditor
By Khatia Kardava
Thursday, September 21
With 80 votes and none opposing, the Parliament of Georgia confirmed the candidacy of Irakli Mekvabishvili as head of the State Audit office on September 20.
Mekvabishvili has long experience in working for the financial institutions in different sectors. Over the years, he was an employee of the National Bank. Currently, he is the main banker of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Both majority and the opposition members agree about the professionalism of the candidate. According to the parliamentary minority, the main issue is whether or not Mekvabishvili will remain independent and impartial after approval . Levan Gogichaishvili, member of parliamentary majority in an interview with the journalists said, that the general auditor “has all the legislative guarantees that he will be untouchable and independent.”
According to Mekvabishvili, the State Audit Office should be of a preventive character and not a punitive structure. However, if there is no consistency with the law, the agency will provide an immediate and adequate assessment. Mekvabishvili believes that the Parliament should react and conduct the strict monitoring of the recommendations made by the office.
The new head of the State Audit Office expressed his position about the reorganization of the agency. According to him, all qualified personnel will be retained in the Audit Office. However, he adds that for improvement of the structure, changes will be made, if necessary.
"If I consider it necessary and there will be an urgent need to improve the structure to become more efficient, flexible, and result-oriented, I will definitely implement these changes, " said Mekvabishvili at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Budget on September 14.
The new general auditor has introduced to the Parliament strategic and institutional views how to strengthen the State Audit Office.
“Almost 25 years of experience that I have acquired in the banking and financial sector will be used for the transition to a qualitatively new level of the Audit Service. The office will become more efficient, more flexible, more transparent and independent. We will all unite around those values which are: objectivity, independence, professionalism and publicity," said the general auditor.
The rights and obligations of the head of the State Audit Office are defined by the Constitution of Georgia. According to Article 97 of the Constitution, the State Audit Office is an independent body conducting an audit in various state agencies and also monitors financial activities of political unions.
According to the Regulation of the State Audit Office, the Parliament of Georgia elects a general auditor, nominated by the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia for five years. A general auditor cannot hold another position or engage in other paid work, cannot be a member of political party or be involved in any political activity , except for pedagogical, scientific and / or creative activities.
Georgia should support an effective, transparent and flexible State Auditing system. For now, it is too early to assess the leadership and management skills of a new general auditor, however, he seems to have a firm basis to proceed with the task.