29th October 2015
Seventy-five auditors from the Audit Service have benefitted from a five-week specialised audit training in Revenue, Environmental, Procurement, IT and Forensic Audits at the Hill Valley Hotel, on Wednesday 28th October, 2015.
During the certification ceremony the Auditor General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, pointed out that the specialised audit trainings will contribute significantly to the government’s drive to improve the public financial management framework in Sierra Leone.
She said that is why the International Development Association (IDA), the African Development Bank, European Commission and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have approved the use of part of its financing towards the Public Financial Management Integration and Consolidation Project, (PFMICP).
She noted that the objectives set at the commencement of the trainings were achieved to a large extent, as ASSL took the first step in enhancing the capacity of its staff in carrying out their roles and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. The Auditor General highlighted that reports from the five weeks of training indicated that 75 staff benefited from trainings in Revenue, Environmental, Procurement, IT and Forensic Audits as ASSL can boast of more trained professionals in diverse audit disciplines.
Mrs Taylor-Pearce noted that the desired outcomes of the trainings would be achieved in the very near future as there would be improved audit coverage, diversified audits, increased transparency and accountability in MDAs, availability to train audit professionals in-country and possibly expanding the curriculum of the University of Sierra Leone to cover specialised audit areas. “As the Supreme Auditing Institution for Sierra Leone, tasked with the role of not only safeguarding taxpayers monies but also to give assurance that all revenues due to Sierra Leone are received intact, it is our responsibility to make sure that public moneys are being fully accounted for” said Mrs Taylor-Pearce.
She noted that, giving an opinion that “the Financial Statements give a true and fair view” does not say much to the majority of the citizenry as the ASSL owe it to the public to bring out issues in a clear and concise manner, so that even those who are averse to figures will understand what is really being reported about our MDAs. She reiterated that the trainings were facilitated by a mix of qualified and experienced home-based and international professionals from various disciplines as the lectures were delivered by trainers with wealth of experience in their various disciplines, as well as practical experiences working in the field of audit.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Honourable Chernor Bah. pointed out that the Audit Service Sierra Leone was established by an Act of parliament in 2005 to audit and report on all public accounts of Sierra Leone and all public offices. He said that the five weeks specialised audit training that the key actors in the accountability process benefitted from, is clearly in line with the objectives for which the ASSL was set up. He said the Auditor General and her team have demonstrated great insight in their choice of the courses taught, as nothing could be more relevant in enhancing the capacity of the anti-graft frontline fighters. Hon. Bah said, ensuring accountability particularly in public life, carries with it enormous challenges, hence the need for those in the forefront of this fight to be properly equipped to confront the obstacles that fraught the road to the realisation of this objective.
The Deputy Speaker noted that over the years, ASSL has transformed from an obscure department to the lead government arrow head in the consolidation of the accountability process. He stressed that the training should not be seen as a means of amassing qualifications but as a tool that can be used positively to ensure probity in public life. Commenting on the relationship between the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the ASSL, the Deputy Speaker stated that the PAC will continue to support every move by the Auditor General to strengthen the public financial management system of the country. He further noted that the PAC will continue to stand by ASSL for further trainings that will put the institution in better stead for it to be able to embark on more real time and specialised audit exercises which is the best method of nipping fraud in the bud and saving the nation from losing valuable resources to potentially fraudulent practices during the implementation of programmes.