Malawi Auditor General says NAO to be audited

The Auditor General of Malawi Reckford Kampanje has opened up his institution, the National Audit Office (NAO) to be audited by any private external audit firm on the ORT funds it receives from government for the first time in Malawi’s history, officials have confirmed.

Kampanje, who rose from several positions in government as Director of Budget and then Accountant General, invited the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament and told them that NAO are ready to be audited on the ORT funds it receives monthly from government.

“The AG and NAO management indeed met the Honourable Chairperson, Vice Chair and Lead Clerk of PAC where he broke the news that as part of forming a new quasi-independent Supreme Audit Institution and following international regulations for independent National Audit Offices, the Malawi Supreme Audit Institution should be audited as soon as possible,” said Thomas Chafunya, NAO`s Corporate Communications Officer in an interview with Nyasa Times.

Kampanje: NAO to be audited

Asked on who will be the recipient of the final audit report, Chafunya said there were still other outstanding issues interms of legal conflict between the Constitution of Malawi where it says that the AG should report to the Minister of Finance and the Public Audit Act of 2003 which says the AG will be reporting to the Parliament through Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“We are currently addressing this issue through a process of legal amendments as part of the Institutional Review. After this is done, we are likely to see the realignment of the two legislations and amendment being done to have one line of reporting for the AG. It is a long process which has already involved the Ministry of Justice but the decision by the AG to see NAO having audited in ORT funds will go ahead,“ he said.

He added that after the independent auditors have done their job the report will be presented to the Minister of Finance and then passed on to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

But how will the private auditors be identified? Chafunya said the Terms of Reference for the would-be external auditors have been drafted and will be provided for scrutiny and discussion with PAC Chairperson then tender process will follow where successful bidder will conduct the job.

“We are looking at starting from years 2010 onwards because this is when we got an approval from Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) to start the process of moving into a quasi independent NAO,” he said.

Economic analysts have hailed the decision by the Auditor General saying it will send a strong signal that every institution which receives public money must be accountable.

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office says it has been downthrown by message  from its counterparts; the Office of the Auditor General of Norway  (OAGN) putting on hold its agreement signed four years ago of sending technical assistance to NAO.

“I will not discuss the relationship with our Norwegian counterparts in the media. NAO respects their position; however we feel that the decision was quick and possibly based on few assumptions. OAGN is a good partner for NAO-Malawi there are enormous benefits for both parties. We benefit from personnel they send to help us in developing skills of our local staff and hence NAO has put up steps to bring back on track that relationship sooner than later,” said Chafunya.

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