The work of internal auditors in public institutions across Ghana has saved GH¢522.9 million of public funds, the Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), Dr Eric Oduro Osae, has stated.
He said the amount was realised from audit observation infractions in 9,068 audit reports, out of which 6,699 recommendations, with a monetary value of the amount, were made.
“These are public funds that could have gone down the drain had it not been for the vigilance of internal auditors,” he said.
At the launch of the IAA new website in Accra yesterday, Dr Osae said: “The internal audit function is a pre-corruption preventing function. So if Ghana wants to fight corruption to the core, we have to lay more emphasis on internal audit because we should not waste resources on fighting corruption or chasing funds that have been stolen.
“It is better we prevent people from stealing, and if we want to do that and do it well, we have to resource internal auditors."
The IAA website is aimed at facilitating the submission of reports and interactions with various stakeholders to enhance the fight against corruption.
It will also address access to information and allow the tracking of every single report submitted to the agency.
Naming and shaming
Dr Osae said in recent times, the face of internal audit service in Ghana was changing through the restructuring and repositioning of the IAA, under the guidance and leadership of its board.
For instance, he said, the agency had taken steps to publish the names of institutions that failed to submit their quarterly internal audit reports to the agency.
"This naming and shaming will continue, and if institutions fail to comply, we will activate the independent powers of the director-general under the Internal Audit Agency Act and also make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to withhold additional budget releases to such defaulting institutions.
"And in extreme cases, we will prosecute people found culpable in internal audit reports," he said.
Dr Osae indicated that over the past years, the work of the IAA and the Audit Service had supported the government to reposition its agenda towards fighting corruption.
Besides, he said, the agency had signed a number of memoranda of understanding with other anti-corruption institutions to allow them to fight corruption head-on in a coordinated manner.
The director-general said the website would improve interaction with stakeholders and make records, laws and policies that would support the fight against corruption readily available to collaborators in the system.
"It has opened a very good opportunity for internal auditors to submit their reports online and virtually, so that they cannot be interfered with by people who think they can interfere with reports of internal auditors.
"Besides, it is a way of ensuring that internal auditors’ reports get to the IAA on time," he said.
Conditions of service
Dr Osae added that the agency was looking forward to the internal audit function being changed in the county.
To that end, he said, internal auditors were calling for the rationalisation of their salaries and conditions of service, so that they would be in line with their contemporaries in the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department, the Ghana Audit Service and the Public Procurement Authority.
“This can happen only, and only if, the current Internal Audit Agency Act, which was passed in 2003, is amended or revised to be in line with current internal audit practices,” he said.
According to him, all laws that were passed together with the act had seen major revisions.
He mentioned the Public Procurement Authority Act and the Financial Administration Act, which were both passed in the same year as the Internal Audit Agency Act, which had seen revisions.
"Internal auditors of this country are calling for a complete overhaul of the Internal Audit Agency Act, so that once the act is revised, we can have a new Internal Audit Service that will work in line with the Ghana Audit Service to better provide assurance and advisory services for the government, as required,” he added.