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Internal Audit concludes validation on Internal Audit Manual

Internal Audit concludes validation on Internal Audit Manual

Report reaching this press reveals that The Internal Audit Department in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) has on Monday 24th August 2015concluded a one- day validation workshop of the new internal audit manual for Internal Auditors in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown.

According to our sources, the programme was sponsored by the Public Financial Management Improvement and Consolidation Project (PFMICP) through funds donated by donor partners, World Bank, DFID & AFDB.

The primary objective of the workshop was:

1) To have the views and inputs of stakeholders in key MDAs in the Public Service such as Audit Service Sierra Leone, the Accountant General’s Department, MoFED, Ministries of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ministry of Mines and Ministry of Works.

ii) To consider for inclusion in the final version of the Internal Audit Manual the views, comments, Corrections & Criticisms to be provided by the above listed key stakeholders

iii) To produce a finalized version of the Manual which would provide the most suitable approaches to fulfilling the specific responsibilities that Internal Auditors would have to most effectively carry out during the Internal Audit activity.

In his statement, Director of Internal Audit Department in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Kandeh Sesay, said that primary lessons from the financial failure and collapse of numerous organizations states that good governance, risk management and internal controls are essential to corporate success and longevity also noting that as a result of its unique and objective perspective, in-depth organization and oversight entities, these services cannot be delivered in the absence of well- documented and well communicated policies and procedures, which comprise the audit manual.

Mr. Kandeh Sesay pointed out that in 2006, the directorate of Internal Audit received support from the Institutional Support project funded by the European Union to develop an Audit Manual, noting however, that the Audit Manual, which was developed by KPMG, an auditing firm in Sierra Leone, was not user friendly and did not have enough templates and internal auditors were virtually not using the document which was very bulky.

The Director of Internal Audit explained that his Department saw the urgent need to review the manual and in 2014 through the financial support received from the IPFMRP to review the manual and develop working tools and templates that could be suitably used by all internal audit staff in MDAs.

He further said that the first workshop, which was attended by the Internal Auditors in the senior cadre, was to downside the first manual and tailor down the operating procedures and templates.

He pointed out that at the end of that workshop a draft document was prepared which was widely circulated to various stakeholders for their review and comments, stating that they now have a revised draft manual which they hoped to validate during the workshop before the document is eventually put into use.

He said although the manual is an extensive compilation of resource material intended to be used by internal audit staff, other departments may find it useful as a guide to improve their operations through creating or updating their own manual, policies, procedures and practices.

In his opening remarks, the Development Secretary at MoFED who chaired the program, John Sumaila, said it is significant for them to mark a dawn of a new era where they shift their attention to accountability and transparency in the operations of Government. He noted that the validation workshop is a manifestation of the new social order in Sierra Leone, noting, they in governance should be able to put in place those control measures that will bring the greatest benefits to the people of Sierra Leone.

He said the history of Internal Audit in Sierra Leone goes a long way, as according to him, there were Internal Audit Units in MDAS, but they were basically looking at pre audit of accounting operations, saying that as time went by they saw the need particularly within the context of the Public Service Reform process that they needed to strengthen the control systems within MDAs.

He said because of the above reason, in 2005 Government Enacted the Government Budget and Accountability Act which made strong provisions for the establishment for the Directorate of Internal Audit, which he said followed an interim arrangement as in the first instance consultants were recruited and put in charge of the vital function.

He reiterated that the new Internal Audit Manual they are about to examine was put together as back as 2006 when consultants were recruited and they were working since then to domesticated all of the concepts that were in the manual, as there are times a domestication being made by partners are most times difficult to implement because local conditions are not fully taken onboard.

He maintained that base on the above reason the internal audit manual has been going through a number of consultations.

Kebe koroma Accountant General said his department is the biggest clients of the Internal Audit, as according to him, they do the accounting work whilst the Auditors perform the auditing, which they appreciate very much.

He spoke about a slogan between auditing and accounting which says “The Accountant keeps your cheques and the Auditor checks your cheques”.

“The salient message in that slogan is the fact that our roles are complementary. Adding, Accountants are more useful in the objectives.

He stated that “an accountant that treats an auditor as a foe” is bound to fail.

The Accountant General further stated that Internal Auditing is a specialized discipline, stating his delight that the work of the Auditors is going to formalized in a manual. He said their role as internal audit directorate is entrenched in the Government Budgeting and Accountability Act.

Credit SLENA
By Hawanatu Bockari (PFMICP IEC officer)

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