The Office of the Auditor General in Norway (OAGN), in collaboration with the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) commenced a five-day training of ASSL auditors in the Audit of the Extractive Industry in Sierra Leone on Monday 16th January, 2017 at the ASSL office, Lotto Building, Tower Hill.
This training is first of a series of support that the Office of the OAGN in Norway has provided in their bid to empower the capacity of ASSL’s auditors. A few months ago, both supreme audit institutions signed a memorandum of understanding to foster a harmonious working relationship between the two supreme audit bodies, which will see ASSL receive support in the forms of capacity building programmes.
The training attracted not only facilitators from OAGN, but also the African Organisation of English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E) in South Africa.
Mrs Taylor-Pearce making the keynote address
In her keynote address, the Auditor General Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce stated that the training was an epoch making occasion as the audit of the extractive industry in Sierra Leone is a novelty. Noting that the country is witnessing the dawn of a new era in the extractive industry sector, an industry that is expected to boost the country’s flagging economy.
She further noted that the training would further equip the ASSL staff with the requisite skills that would enable them to not only effectively audit the sector, but to also make recommendations that would help effect positive change in this potentially viable industry.
She observed that the effect of the global fall in the prices of precious minerals, (and especially for us that of iron ore )cannot be overstated. It has resulted in the collapse of our two key mining concerns namely: African Minerals and London Mining, two mining giants whose demise no doubt dented the country’s economic growth, and helped occasion the current dire austerity situation that the government and people are now confronted with. She stressed that with the band of professionals at ASSL, Sierra Leone is expected to see the implementation of IFRS-6 which is the International Financial Reporting Standard for the extractive industry, which no doubt would be done in line with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) to which Sierra Leone is a signatory.
She appealed to the representatives of the various MDAs to support the auditors by providing them with the requisite documents once the audit starts, so as to help facilitate an effective audit, and consequently aid the auditors proper recommendations that would help strengthen the institution .
Commenting on the partnership with ASSL, the head of the OAGN team, Lise S. Hansen stated that one of the criteria that her organisation prioritises in their selection of an audit office to partner with, is that the institution in question should have an an Auditor General that is an agent of change. This she said, is exactly what the OAGN has seen in the Auditor General of Sierra Leone, and it is the reason why the team is in Sierra Leone to partner with ASSL to build the capacity of its staff. She expressed her satisfaction with the memorandum of understanding that was has been entered into with the ASSL by her office. She hoped that the training would help ameliorate the loss of precious financial resources from this key sector through fraudulent practices.