Amend Internal Audit Agency Act to give us more independence – Internal auditors

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The Internal Auditors Association Ghana (IAAG), has called for an amendment of the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658) to enable auditors within government agencies perform their duties decently.

Their calls come on the back of the Finance Minister’s remarks in parliament during the 2018 Mid-year Budget Review in July, where he called for the restructuring of the Internal Audit function to strengthen its role in the fiscal consolidation efforts of the government.

Speaking to Citi News on the sidelines of a sensitization workshop on ‘Restructuring Public Sector Internal Auditing’, the Techincal Director of the Internal Auditors Association Ghana, Benjamin Adjetey, reiterated the importance of an independent internal auditing process.

“What the Internal Audit Agency does is that we play an oversight role over the work that they do. We ensure the quality of their work. We give them capacity when the need arises, etc. Now, that has not been effective because as staff of their various institutions, the key challenge is the independence of the internal audit unit and the objectivity of the internal audit staff. That is the big challenge that we are facing. And so if the act is amended, and the internal auditors are no more staff of the institutions where they are working, then they will have the free hand to do the work professionally without fear,” he said.

Mr. Adjetey said the amendment will benefit them and improve their work in many other ways.

“It’s about giving our staff a lot more exposure and making sure that a lot more capacity building is done for them; training in various areas of resource utilization, and make sure that they can hold the officers accountable for the resources under them. It’s about making sure that we help them and assure quality in the work that they do. Once quality assurance, which is a whole issue in our profession, is adhered to, the report therefore will be better than it is now,” Mr Adjetey said.

Speaking at the same event, the Chief Internal Auditor of the Ministry of Energy, who is also the President of the Internal Auditors Association-MDAs, Ernest Boateng Wiafe, reiterated the need for all internal auditors to come under one umbrella.

“We suggested that all Internal Auditors in the MDAs and then the MMDAs should come under the Internal Auditing Agency. But the problem is the Local Government Service has an Enabling Act so once there is an act regulating them; you cannot just go and then say that they should also come under the agency because the Act gives them the right to recruit their own people. So, the Enabling Act must be looked at,” he said.

“Committees have been set to look at the two Acts, a way they can amend it for them to come under the Agency. So when we are all under the Agency, training will not be a problem because the Agency can organised training for us. When it comes to motivational issues, they can handle it. But here’s the case, we’re all scattered. So, the restructuring will put everybody under the Agency,” Mr Wiafe added.

A Needs Assessment of the Republic of Ghana’s Internal Audit Activity by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) USA in 2009, indicated that the government of Ghana’s internal auditing activity did not conform to the IIA’s International Standard on independence and objectivity.

The Internal Auditors Association Ghana (IAAG) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Ghana, are hopeful that a reformation of the Internal Audit space will position the IAA to effectively execute its mandate and promote the effective use of public resources.

They are also hopeful that the move, when fully implemented, will ensure the independence of the Internal Audit Units of MDAs and MMDAs, and further enhance the objectivity of the staff.

Finance Minister’s call for restructuring

On July 19, 2018, the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, proposed that “the Internal Audit function in the public sector needs to be restructured and strengthened to play its role in the fiscal consolidation efforts of Government.”

According to him, “the current law and structure of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) does not empower it to effectively supervise, manage and regulate the practices of Internal Auditing in the public sector.”

He further noted that some measures “are being pursued to restructure and re-engineer the practice of Internal Auditing, to enhance public financial management in Ghana.”

By: Akosua Ofewaa Opoku | citinewsroom.com | Ghana