The Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has emphasised the role of internal auditors in reducing public-sector corruption.
Addressing this year’s Internal Audit Agency (IAA) conference in Accra on Tuesday, he stated that the preventive role of internal auditors had enhanced fiscal discipline and saved the nation millions of cedis.
The Vice-President noted that the government would, therefore, continue to restructure and reposition public-sector internal audit as an important public financial management institution to put public officers on their toes towards observing fiscal discipline in spending public funds.
Auditors in general (both internal and external ones) have been perceived to fuel corruption in the public sector, so it is heart-warming to hear that internal auditors are doing a good job now.
Currently it appears internal auditors face constraints that make it difficult for them to discharge their duties as expected.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the IAA has appealed to Parliament to expedite the passage of the Internal Audit Service Bill to restructure and reposition public-sector internal auditing for improved resource mobilisation and utilisation.
It would be recalled that at its Annual Internal Audit Conference in Accra last year, the IAA called for the repeal of the Internal Audit Agency Act 2003 (Act 658) currently in force, to help restructure the public sector audit and move the agency to become an Internal Audit Service.
The IAA explained that Act 658 had become a significant impediment to the Agency’s role in ensuring well-equipped, independent and objective internal auditors to provide the desired functions in the public sector.
It was cited at the conference that since the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the public organisation was the boss of the internal auditor, the auditor could not freely write the correct report on his negative activities.
The explanation is that the CEO determines conditions of services, promotion and other welfare items and so can deny the internal auditor the goodies if he writes any bad report on him.
To the IAA, the law an Internal Audit Service will liberate internal auditors, so that they can have that objectivity and the independence to produce the required report, and in addition help them to negotiate their salaries and other conditions of service.
The IAA appeal is not strange because it has precedent in the Audit Service, which was established in 1910 as Audit Department and became Auditor-General’s Department in 1950, before being made the Audit Service in 1969 to accord it proper independence, which is backed by the 1992 Constitution and the Audit Service Act 2000 (Act 584).
It can only take that independence to reinforce the power of internal auditors to help clamp down on payroll fraud and also have the Economic and Organised Crime Office to promptly prosecute individuals and institutions cited for various irregularities in internal audit reports and recover monies lost.
While the Ghanaian Times supports internal auditors in the appeal for an Internal Audit Service with all its benefits, the paper would like to remind them to be guided always by ethics so they can uphold such values as integrity, independence, assertiveness, reliability and good communication skills.
The good result will help to erase the perception that internal auditors and, for that matter, all auditors fuel corruption in the public sector.