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‘Public office is a public trust’

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, July 12, 2011) – Top-level elected leaders in the Marshall Islands called on government auditors and finance managers meeting in Majuro to prevent fraud for the benefit of the public.

More than 200 auditors and government finance managers are attending the annual conference of the Association of Pacific Island Public Auditors in Majuro from Palau, Yap, Guam, Northern Marianas, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and the Marshall Islands.

"Public office is a public trust," President Jurelang Zedkaia said in his keynote address to the annual conference of the earlier in the week. "Yet we know that corruption is a frequent problem in many countries, and sometimes so deeply rooted that it defines the whole character of public life."

Zedkaia urged the officials to work together to "look for better control, better lives for our citizens, new and improved methods of dealing with the problems that beset our respective countries."

Speaker Alvin Jacklick said misuse of government money is now being discovered in the Marshall Islands. "The Association of Pacific Island Public Auditors is here to help us work better," he added.

"Unfortunately here in the islands, elected leaders believe we have the power to misuse public resources," Speaker Jacklick said. "This is the wrong mentality."

The 22nd annual conference continues through Saturday. A team of high-powered auditors and fraud investigators from the United States has been flown in to lead training sessions.

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