Speeches & Transcripts
Supreme Audit Institutions: Meeting Higher Expectations
August 8, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to deliver this welcome address on behalf of the World Bank to all of you attending this ASOSAI seminar on the theme SAIs: Meeting Higher Expectations.
I welcome the delegates of the Supreme Audit Institutions from the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions along with the resource persons and the observers who have gathered in this beautiful country to deliberate how SAIs can continue to meet ever increasing expectations and challenges placed upon them.
Improved public financial management lies at the core of good governance and is crucial to economic development, boosting shared prosperity, and ending extreme poverty. Supreme Audit Institutions are central to uphold government institutions to account. As heads of SAIs, you are therefore leading one of the most important institutions of accountability in your respective countries. The famous Indian philosopher Kautilya in his treatise on Economics and Public Administration (“Arthasastra”) written more than 2500 years ago mentions the importance of independent audit for safeguarding public money.
Improved public financial management lies at the core of good governance and is crucial to economic development.
We are living in a changing and evolving world where we constantly need to adapt our tools and methods to respond to the emerging challenges. I therefore embrace the theme of your conference and discussions of the coming days on how the institutions you are leading can meet the emerging challenges in the audit world.
For my part, I see two main areas where Supreme Audit Institutions can do things differently:
· The first key area is to reinvent their role from the traditional compliance approach to a much broader scope that emphasizes risk management, accountability and performance. Two examples illustrate this:
1) The first one is on the recent global financial crisis. This crisis not only brought to the forefront the need for prudent fiscal management by Governments, but also the risks associated with excessive public debt. Public sector auditors as watchdogs of the exchequer have a role to alert Governments and the public on such fiscal risks when they audit Government financial statements.
2) The second example is the vital role you can play in enhancing public sector performance. I am happy to note that there have been several initiatives by the audit community to break the traditional barriers and make significant breakthroughs in enhancing the effectiveness of the audit function. As you know, the International Association of Supreme Audit Institutions has constituted a working group on environmental auditing with Indonesia as its Chair; and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has recently opened a global training facility on environmental auditing. Similar initiatives are happening elsewhere also. I am sure that this forum will take these initiatives forward by discussing and debating these issues and come out with fruitful guidance to the audit community.
· The second key area is in ensuring effective communication of the results of your work. I would like to encourage you to develop and implement an effective communication strategy, particularly towards Parliamentary committees, citizens and civil society groups and the media. It will enhance significantly the transparency and accountability in the management of public resources. Just yesterday I was in Nepal where the Auditor General there, Mr. Acharya, told me about the exciting partnership that is developing between the Auditor General’s office and civil society organizations to communicate audit findings to the common citizen.
Before closing, I would like to reiterate our firm engagement to support you in these important reforms. My department has supported (and will continue to do so) several country level initiatives. I will not mention all of them, but would like to indicate that here in Sri Lanka; there is a strong partnership between the Auditor General’s office and the Bank through which we have been supporting the AG to introduce modern audit techniques including performance auditing. We are supporting similar reforms in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives.
Globally, the Bank has been a signatory and a strong supporter of the Paris, Accra and Busan Declarations of Aid Effectiveness that have advocated the strengthening of country systems and for enhanced accountability and transparency in development cooperation.
With these words, it is my pleasure to welcome you all to this seminar and I wish you all the best in your deliberations and discussions over the next two days.