The Role of Public Sector Audits in the Anti-Corruption Agenda

Introduction

Public sector audits are a crucial component towards better public finance governance. However, despite its importance in the budget cycle, much emphasis is given to other components of the budget cycle such as budget formulation, budget approval and budget execution.

The public audit is rarely given the attention it deserves. It is through an independent and objective assessment of public resources that the government and its citizens can be assured that public funds are expended in line with constitutional and other legal provisions. For example, section 298 (1)(d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013 (hereafter referred to as the Constitution) requires that public funds be “expended transparently, prudently, economically and effectively.”

In this regard, the office of the Auditor-General (the country’s supreme audit institution) is an important stakeholder in the accountability and anti-corruption chain. The annual reports by the Auditor-General contribute immensely to parliamentary oversight of state revenue and expenditure as provided for in section 299 of the Constitution. These reports empower parliament to “monitor and oversee expenditure by the State and all Commissions and institutions and agencies of government at every level, including statutory bodies, government-controlled entities, provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities, in order to ensure that all revenue is accounted for, all expenditure has been properly incurred and any limits and conditions on appropriations have been observed (section 299 (1)(a-c) of the Constitution). The timing of the Auditor-General’s report is therefore important in ensuring that oversight institutions have ample time to exercise their constitutional obligations and citizens exercise their social ac-countability role.

It is therefore worrying that, at the time of writing this digest, the 2019 Auditor-General’s report, which was supposed to be out by the 30th of June, 2020 is still a work in progress. Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) is concerned that the Minister of Finance will present the 2021 National Budget before the 2019 Auditor-General’s report is submitted to parliament. This is against auditing standards and the principles of public finance management.

It is against this background that this week’s Weekend Digest focuses on the functions of the Auditor-General as an important stakeholder in the anti-corruption chain as well as the importance of public sector audits in enhancing public sector accountability.

Read the full digest here (423KB PDF)

Source: Transparency International – Zimbabwe

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