To enhance public financial management in Ghana, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has revealed that measures are underway to restructure and re-engineer the practice of Internal Auditing in the country.
The Internal Audit Agency ACT, 2003(Act 658) established an Internal Audit Agency as a central agency to co-ordinate, facilitate, monitor and supervise internal audit activities within Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in order to secure quality assurance of internal audit within these institutions of State.
Presenting updates on key policy initiatives, at the mid-year budget review in parliament on Thursday, the Finance Minister suggested 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.”
He noted that the current law and structure of IAA does not empower it to effectively supervise, manage and regulate the practice of Internal Auditing in the public sector.
Some measures proposed included the restructure of IAA to function as a department of the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Ofori-Atta said “the Internal Audit Department will then be the Internal Auditor of Government, with all Internal Audit Units in MDAs and MMDAs directly under its control and management.”
This is expected to help align the activities of Internal Auditing to national financial priorities and strategies set by the Finance Ministry.
Players in the sector have indicated that the Internal Audit function in the public sector is being practised more as an operations function in organisations, rather than as a third line of defence, as it should and is also narrowed down to only financial controls and compliance functions.
There have been calls for a change to the culture and perception of what Internal Audit is, through more awareness creation among stakeholders.
Earlier this month, it was announced that as part of its strategic focus by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Global, the country is expected to implement a three-year project aimed at building up the Internal Auditing profession.
The three-year project would be implemented through the Institute of Internal Auditors Ghana, the local chapter of the global professional body, with funding released annually based on the success of the previous year’s activities.
A study conducted by the World Bank for IIA Global, indicated that while the Internal Audit profession was at a matured level in other parts of the world, such as the United States of America and Europe, it was at initial and emerging levels in Africa, thus the need to invest in developing the profession further.
The study, which covered 11 Anglophone African countries, also found that there was the need for effective Internal Audit in the public and private sector as well as awareness of the Internal Audit function and its contribution to governance.
There are limited resources for training in the profession, while efforts were poorly coordinated across the continent.
By Joshua W. Amlanu