Internal auditors crucial for ensuring effective public financial systems  

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By Rashidatu IBRAHIM

 In order to ensure the efficiency of public financial systems of the country, it is necessary to focus extra attention on strengthening internal auditing systems, Dr. Eric Osae, Director-General of Internal Audit Agency, has said.

This, he described, as the preventive approach to reduce waste in the public sector, as well as reduce pressure on the Auditor-General as the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI).

“The control environment in which the SAI works is very important and if the control environment is very chaotic, they cannot do their work. If we really want to ensure that public financial systems are working, let’s strengthen internal auditors. let us use the preventive approach; and by that, we reduce the pressure on the Auditor-General. If we fail to do that, then we put all the funds into Ghana Audit Service; they will come back to meet a rotten system, that will give them too much work.

“For instance, with audits that can be carried out in one week, they have to use one month, two months or three months – which makes it very expensive for the nation.

“If the system is worse and controls are not working, you give them too much work to do. So I think that we should have a way— let us strengthen the control systems; and the control systems are managed  by internal auditors. Let us empower internal auditors so that they put the system in check. By that, by the time SAIs get there, they do not have a lot of work to do. If you do all these constitutional changes and they get there and the irregularity level is at a certain level, they would have to report it like; that and it doesn’t help us,” he explained.

Dr. Osae made the remarks at the launch  of the Independence and Accountability in Governance assessment report put together by the World Bank. The assessment was undertaken to review the independence of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) in Ghana and to better understand the process and procedures for the follow-up of the Auditor-General’s (AG) recommendations.

The report provides recommendations to support the government to strengthen the SAI’s independence and the audit recommendation follow-up process and safeguard the use of public funds. The report is the output of an assessment which was conducted in Ghana in the year 2023 using the World Bank’s SAl independence index, launched in July 2021.

Passage of Internal Audit Agency Bill

To streamline and structure internal audit system, the Director-General of Internal Audit Agency also called for expedited action toward the passage of the Internal Audit Agency Bill by Parliament.

He noted that the bill, when passed into law, will bring internal auditors under the control and management of the Internal Audit Agency “so that their hands will not be tied by their administrators— that is what has created a problem for us”.

“What is going to be passed is a revised Internal Audit Agency Act that empowers the Internal Audit Agency to have all the internal auditors across the public sector under the Internal Audit Agency and by that, we would be able to strengthen the system,” he further said.

Dr. Osai, in his statement, also lamented the non-publication of Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) directives, and further urged a common platform to be created for the relevant institutions to publish their reports.

“PAC gives directives directly to the the people who appear before them.  under the PFM Act of Ghana, the responsibility of ensuring that audit recommendations for both internal and external are implemented is placed on the audit committees.

“Let us create a centralised platform where the AG can put his report there while the Internal Audit Agency too can also put it on that platform. PAC should put it on that platform, then we will have the a common platform where all of us can have access to safe information.

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