The Financial Secretary should have to provide greater accountability of his use of taxpayers' money, it was recommended yesterday. The committee urged the Government to change the system after studying criticism from the Auditor of outstanding advances to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and for construction of the Convention and Exhibition Centre extension. Committee chairman Eric Li Ka-cheung said the system under the Public Finance Ordinance was outdated and the advance accounting arrangement should be scrapped. The ordinance gives the Financial Secretary unchecked authority over use of advance funding. The Auditor said the $1 billion owed to the SAR by the UNHCR for the Vietnamese boat people might not be recovered because the commission had no legal liability to repay the advance payment. The committee said: 'The use of the advance account mechanism is tantamount to bypassing the normal procedures for seeking funding approval from Legco.' The Auditor also criticised the Convention and Exhibition Centre extension plan that incurred additional costs of $233 million due to a design change. The committee feared the revised design had not been endorsed by the Government's Project Control Committee. It recommended that for future construction projects, department heads should negotiate with tenderers only after their quotations had been vetted by the Architectural Services Department. Mr Li said they hoped the Government would supply information to legislators on important and unusual cases involving large amounts of money. Although members had no power to reject or endorse the funding, he said they could monitor them better by questioning the justification for funding.