Accra, June 11, GNA - Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General of the United Kingdom (UK), on Friday praised the leadership of the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) and said the Service had a bright future. He said the Service had the trust and respect of the international community because it had people, who made the right decisions to make things happen.
" I see the in the 21st century a bright future for the Ghana Audit Service because of what we've already done in securing further support" for the Service.
Sir John was addressing staff of the Audit Service in Accra, as part of his itinerary for a three-day working visit to Ghana.
The visit was to afford the Comptroller the opportunity to review the first phase of the European Union (EU) sponsored Technical Assistance Programme, to the Ghana Audit Service.
The National Audit Office of the United Kingdom took over the management of the Programme from the Swedish National Audit Office in June 2003.
The review precedes a possible continuation of the programme to its second phase, after the EU has approved of its managers. Sir John said the trust and respect the Service had earned was had resulted in a further EU project and support from the British Department for International Development.
He said the first phase of the EU Technical Assistance Project, which started in 2000, enhanced Financial Audit, and introduced staff to a New Audit Manual.
The Audit Service Staff were also trained in application of Audit Manual and Management Reports.
The first phase of the Project also introduced the Service to Performance Audit, created new Division and Audit Guidelines, and also completed a wide range of audits.
Under the second phase, a new IT Department, equipped with 400 or more computers, would be installed and networked.
The second phase is also expected to modernise the Management and Administration of the Service, ensure a better Corporate Plan and offer training in new human resource methods and better planning.
Sir John said Auditors would be challenged with technical issues, relations with Executives and Legislatures, human rights issues, community relationships and international issues in the 21st century. Challenges would also come from accrual accounting and new methodologies in the field.
With the financial scams of Enron and WorldCom, Auditors in the Private Sector were less trusted, and Public Sector Auditors were also pulled closer to politics, he said.
Sir John urged Auditing Organisations to build strong media rapport and explain their work to them, saying, "it is time most people learn about us through the media."
Ghana's Auditor General, Mr Edward Dua-Agyeman, who praised the collaboration between the Ghana Audit Service and the National Audit Office (NAO) and said despite the challenges of the Service, it would continue to do its best till it attained maximum efficiency. The Auditor General meanwhile announced the release of funds for the payment of their arrears for two months for the staff of the Service.
Ms Aurore Lokko, Chairperson of the Ghana Audit Board, who chaired the address, said there was the need to restructure the Service and rationalise staff use so that " we can bring on board staff who are qualified and who can be trained to perform the new roles of a supreme audit institution.
"It is, therefore, to fashion training programmes which will equip our staff to perform specialised audits, such as value for money audits, forensic audit and computer audit and audits of special Government funds like HIPC and Road Fund" Ms Lokko said.
Sir John later presented certificates to 35 senior staff members of the Service, who benefited from a training programme under the project.