The National Audit Office (NAO) on Wednesday held a workshop “Raising audit impact through the implementation of recommendations.” In addition to the NAO leaders, the workshop was attended by deputies of the Assembly of Kosovo and members of the Committee for Oversight of Public Finances (COPF); Committee on Budget, Labour and Transfers (CBLT); Member of the Swedish Parliament Mrs. Mia Sydow Mölleby; former MP of Latvia Mrs. Inguna Sudraba at the same time the former Auditor General of Latvia as well as representatives of the Supreme Audit Institution of Sweden and SIGMA.
Attendees assessed that this workshop was a good opportunity to talk on an approach oriented towards increasing the impact of the Assembly and the NAO on the implementation of audit recommendations, consequently the impact on advancing the management of public finances.
The Auditor General of Kosovo, Vlora Spanca, said that for NAO the implementation of the recommendations is essential, as one of the main objectives that leads to improvement and advancement of the management of public funds and property. Cooperation with both Committees of the Assembly is of utmost importance to promote and advance the processes that help the work of the NAO. “It is a legal obligation for us as two responsible institutions, one for control and the other for legislation and oversight, in this case of public finances, to operate as two inseparable mechanisms that serve the country on increasing control and improving the management of public funds. “, stated Mrs. Spanca.
The Auditor General further indicated that the increase of work impact of the NAO, namely the implementation of audit recommendations, highlights the need for the heads of public institutions to take concrete measures in addressing the recommendations by intensifying controls and ongoing monitoring of action plans on the implementation of the recommendations. “Despite the work of the NAO and the commitment of the Assembly in promoting and raising awareness of the implementation of recommendations, the level of their implementation is still not at a satisfactory level. “Based on the audit reports, the results show that only 45% of the 2019 recommendations have been implemented, which shows a slight increase compared to 2018 which was 40%”, said Mrs. Spanca.
The Auditor General also spoke on the progress of the implementation of the audit plan for the 2021-22 season, saying that from the reports and results so far, it is noticed that the public financial management and financial reporting is not any better than last year and in some cases there are indications that it aggravated. “This is noticed particularly in local government institutions and public enterprises which are assessed to have failed to implement adequate internal controls to prevent irregularities. In regards to local institutions, the situation may be aggravated due to factors such as: local elections, challenges with the pandemic or other factors, whilst in Publicly Owned Enterprises, the lack of audit for years is considered to have been among the main factors “, stated the Auditor General, Vlora Spanca.
The Chairman of the Committee on Budget, Labour and Transfers (CBLT), Armend Muja, after assessing the importance of audits conducted by the NAO and expressing high appreciation for its work, stressed the need to find additional new ways to exercise the influence of the Assembly in the implementation of the recommendations. Mr. Muja said that in addition to other commitments, a follow-up culture of the implementation of recommendations should be performed in the future to strengthen the impact on their implementation.
The Deputy Chairwoman of the Committee for Oversight of Public Finances (COPF), Arta Bajralija, stated that the low level of implementation of recommendations by public institutions is a concern for the Assembly and in this regard has raised the need to increase accountability of responsible parties. She pointed out that COPF reviews about 30 audit reports during the year conducted by the NAO, and highlighted the initiative of this Committee to conduct visits to institutions and other activities to oversee the implementation of the Law on Internal Control of Public Finances.
Both representatives of the Committees extended their thanks to the Swedish and Latvian participants for their willingness to share their experiences in this area.During this workshop, deputies of the Assembly of Kosovo and those of the Swedish and Latvian parliaments shared their experiences and practices in order to increase the impact of their work in improving public financial management.
Swedish MP Mia Sydow Mölleby and Dag Levin Sparr, Senior Adviser at the Swedish National Audit Office (SNAO), focused their presentations on increasing the impact of NAO’s work. They shared with the participants the good practices of the Swedish Parliament and the Swedish National Audit Office for reviewing audit reports and cooperation between the two institutions to ensure good management of public funds and hold accountable the heads of budget organizations.
Whereas the former Auditor General and former member of the Parliament of Latvia, at the same time an expert engaged by SIGMA, Inguna Sudraba, presented the perspective of cooperation of the Supreme Audit Institutions with the Parliament.
While Alastair Swarbrick, Senior Advisor for Public Finance and Audit Policy, SIGMA, spoke on the external parties’ impressions of the NAO, in which case he presented the results of the survey which showed that these impressions continue to emphasize the high reliability in this institution.
Among the main conclusions drawn from this workshop was the need to amend the Law on the Auditor General and the National Audit Office to enable this office to orient audit plans in areas of higher risk, with priority and interest for the Assembly and the public in general.
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