Senator Conway-Walsh proposes statutory audit market be referred to the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission
At the Joint Oireachtas Finance Committee today, Mayo Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh proposed that the Statutory Audit Market be referred to the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission.
She believes there must be a competitive market for audit and professional services and there has to be a disentanglement between the conduct of audits and other professional services.
Speaking during questioning of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) regarding the serious implications for Irish subcontractors caught up in the collapse of Carillion consortium, senator Conway-Walsh said:
"We have ended up with hundreds of small businesses and thousands of jobs at risk because they haven't been paid for work they have done and equipment they have supplied for state owned schools.
"It is not good enough that the buck is being passed one agency to another and once again no one is accountable.
"One would think that the folly of blindly trusting audit firms to be truthful and accurate about the financial robustness of businesses they receive millions of euro from each year would have ended after banking crisis.
"The failure of NDFA to dig beneath the KPMG's auditing of Carillion is neglectful and has exposed subcontractors to preventable risk.
"The failure of Government to transpose article 71.3 of the 2014 EU Directive into Irish Law which would protect subcontractors is not acceptable.
"It beggars belief that neither the department or the NDFA before us appeared to be aware of the details of this directive or were consulted for consideration in the context of the drive for PPPs.
"This would have allowed for subcontractors to get paid directly by the contracting authority.
"My Sinn Féin colleague Deputy Pearse Doherty addressed the contortions Government and its agencies were going through to circumvent the certification processes as set out in the current Building Control Management Systems while ignoring the plight of the subcontractors.
"Government and its agencies have the tools to sort out this mess created by its failure to protect these businesses.
"The cost of not addressing the immediate problem including, job losses, social welfare payments, lost tax revenue and financial stress on families is too high a price to pay.
"Finally, no parent, teacher, student, board of management or community should be put in the position where they have to 'handle stolen goods' by using equipment and buildings that have not been paid for. Surely the Minister for Education cannot stand over such a situation?"