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Auditor-General to inquire into the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership

18 August 2015

The Auditor-General has received requests from James Shaw MP, Hon David Parker, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, and in a petition to inquire into the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership. Our response to those who wrote to us is set out below.

File Ref: 13432

Mr James Shaw
Member of Parliament
Private Bag 1888
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON 6160

Dear Mr Shaw,

REQUEST FOR INQUIRY INTO THE SAUDI ARABIA FOOD SECURITY PARTNERSHIP

Thank you for your letters of 28 May and 24 June 2015. I have been asked by you and another member of Parliament, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, and in a petition from about 10,000 New Zealanders to inquire into the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership (the Partnership).

On 4 August 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Ministry) released documents that may have provided enough information for people to make their own assessment of some questions. But other questions remain; some of which I may be able to answer; some I cannot.

I have, therefore, decided to carry out an inquiry into the expenditure of public money on the Partnership.

Terms of reference for the inquiry

My inquiry under the Public Audit Act 2001 will look at the following:

  • the amount of public money budgeted and spent on this Partnership, how it has been used, and the outcomes achieved with it;
  • whether the expenditure on services was within the appropriations of Vote Foreign Affairs and Trade, as authorised by Parliament;
  • the procurement and contract management practices used by the Ministry and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to purchase services relating to the Partnership;
  • whether the services received were in keeping with the business case and contract specifications; and
  • any other related matter that I consider it desirable to inquire into and report on.

Our work in 2013

In 2013, at the request of the Ministry, my Office carried out some work that involved commenting to the Ministry on the Indicative Business Case and the related appropriation for Vote Foreign Affairs and Trade. The letters setting out our comments have been released publicly. There have been significant developments in the execution of that business case since 2013, and the inquiry will focus mainly on that period.

Reporting publicly

I do not normally make any public comment on the substance or progress of an inquiry while our work is under way. I will report publicly on my findings once I have concluded the inquiry.

Yours sincerely

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

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