Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kikwete’s pick for new CAG draws widespread praise

The new Controller and Auditor General (CAG),

The new Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad 

By Athuman Mtulya, The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. The appointment of Prof Mussa Assad as the new Controller and Auditor General (CAG) has been warmly received by a broad cross-section of Tanzanians who agree he is qualified to execute the demanding duties of the office.

A statement from State House says his appointment came into effect on November 5 and he will be sworn in today by President Jakaya Kikwete.

In September this year, The Citizen revealed that three names were at the table of President Kikwete to pick and fill the vacant position of CAG, and one of them was Prof Assad’s.

The 53-year-old Prof is taking over the topmost position at the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) from Mr Ludovick Utouh who leaves behind a string of achievements.

Many will remember Mr Utouh for being a steadfastly dedicated man who served the nation well. It is essentially during his tenure as CAG that reports from his office started to be issued for heated debates in Parliament.

It was during his tenure–and with the express approval of President Kikwete – that CAG reports, which started to be published almost immediately after their compilation, became public documents.

Now according to observers who spoke with The Citizen yesterday, Prof Assad was the right choice for the office, describing him as a principled professional and a no-nonsense person, qualities needed for a good CAG.

Up to his appointment, Prof Assad was teaching at the Accounting Department of the University of Dar es Salaam’s Business School (UDBS).

The Dean of UDBS Prof Wineaster Anderson said it was an honour for the school and university to produce a CAG and said she is confident that he will perform in his new responsibilities.

“Well, he is no Ludovick Utouh, but since Mr Utouh did a wonderful job people would want to compare the two... many of us at UDBS believe he’ll do a great job as CAG. He is a principled academician. When you trace his work, especially consultancies, you will see that he is qualified for the job,” she said.

Furthermore, up to his fresh appointment, he was the chair with the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), his vice chairperson at the board, Mr Yona Killagane, said that he is confident that Prof Assad is the right man for the demanding job.

“He is a qualified professional accountant; well experienced across Africa…He has also good interpersonal relationship to get things done within the timeframe…I have high confidence in Prof Assad,” he said.

CAG’s reports have been an important working tool for Parliament in its endeavour to unearth financial mismanagement and put the government on its toes. The most recent example is the CAG’s investigation on the Tegeta Escrow Account where Sh306 billion was siphoned from the central bank. Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) worked with CAG in the Tegeta escrow account saga, and PAC chair Zitto Kabwe welcomed the appointment of Prof Assad and expressed confidence in him.

“My confidence in strengthening financial accountability in Tanzania has once again increased following the appointment of Prof Assad as the new CAG. With the level of mismanagement and misuse of public funds including corruption, Tanzania needs such a tough, strict-to-laws-and-regulations, no-nonsense and clean personality,” he said.

Mr Kabwe described Prof Assad as “media shy”, but he believes that the quality of his work will speak for itself. “As the PAC chair, I strongly believe he will bring NAOT to the next level from where Mr Utouh left it and I promise continued support from my committee,” he said.

The chair for Local Authority Accounts Committee (LAAC), another parliamentary committee that works closely with CAG, Mr Rajab Mbarouk, said his team has confidence in Prof Assad and promised to work well with him.

“We wish him the very best in his new position…Tanzanians will depend on him to safeguard their money. LAAC will give him full support and we expect the same from him,” he said.

Prof Assad is a Certified Professional Accountant with a PhD in accounting from Southampton University (2001). He did his Master’s in Financial Accounting at Dublin University (1991) and Bachelor of Commerce degree course at University of Dar es Salaam in 1988.

Dr Assad also chairs the governing boards/councils of National Bank of Commerce (NBC) and the Muslim University of Morogoro. He is a member/trustee of the National Social Security Fund, Higher Education Students Loans Board and Tanzania Fertiliser Company Limited.

The new CAG has undertaken major consultancy projects in public sector finance, business planning, financial modelling, education expenditure reviews, higher education financing, among others at ministerial, international - multilateral and bilateral organisations - and a number of other major public firms.

He has trained extensively on accounting and management and authored two textbooks and published extensively.