The principal auditor at the National Audit Office (NAO) has stated that regular auditing of financial statements are key elements of accountability and transparency in government.
Baba S. Drammeh made these remarks on Wednesday before the joint session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees of the National Assembly while presenting his institution’s report on behalf of the auditor general.
He said the role of the auditor general is to provide independent assurance to the National Assembly that public sector entities are operating fairly and that their financial statements are complete and accurate.
Drammeh reminded that the auditor general and the National Audit Office of The Gambia is created by the Constitution entrusted with the responsibility to audit the accounts of all government institutions, local government authorities and other public bodies.
“Section 102 (a) of the Constitution stipulates the public institutions submit their annual activity reports and Audited financial statements for review by the National Assembly. In addition, International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI 20) envisages that information about Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) should be readily accessible and relevant. Their work processes, activities and products should be transparent. They should also communicate openly with the media and other interested parties and be visible in public arena,” Drammeh stated.
He added that the report aims to meet accountability requirements by reporting on their activities and highlight the regularity and efficiency in the use of SAI resources, create awareness and understanding about the auditor general and the National Audit Office’s role and functions; inform their clients and stakeholders, both internal and external, about their achievements and challenges; and share information about innovation within their organisation to encourage emulation within and outside the NAO.
Principal Auditor Drammeh noted that in The Gambia’s system of governance, Parliament/National Assembly authorises the budget which prescribes government would collect through taxes and how much and for what purposes, adding that there are also financial rules to ensure standards of propriety, regularity and probity in managing public funds.
“The government ministries, departments and other prescribed therein, when they receive and spend public money, the spending department is accountable to the National Assembly for both the quantity and quality of the expenditure.”
He further stated that the main responsibility of the auditor general is to conduct financial and regular audits. “Whilst financial and regularity audits focus mainly on conformity of administrative action with the law, the budget and other relevant accounting, financial and administrative regulations, economy, efficiency and effectiveness audits go beyond judgment of compliance and accuracy to also evaluate performance and the value for money obtained through government transactions,” he stated.
He went on: “We strive to promote accountability, transparency and good governance by providing an independent audit assurance on financial and performance management in government and public sector. We are continuously introducing new initiatives in the form of innovative auditing practices based on the prescribed auditing standards and guidelines for improved auditing results.”
Speaking further, Drammeh disclosed that during the year, his office had conducted 273 audits and outsourced 58 to private audit firms.
Lamin Sambou, assistant procurement officer at The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) informed that NAO was found to be 81% compliant, which denotes to be mainly compliant.
by Aji Fatou Faal-Sonko