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June 19, 2019

Reforms of Union Auditor General Office: Checking and Balancing for Enhancement of Public Finance Management

“Strategic Work Program (2018-2022) was drawn up to implement the aims of Union Auditor General Office. 2018 and 2019 yearly action plans of Strategic Work Program were being drawn up and implemented.”

  • Union Auditor General U Maw Than
  • Interviewer: Thuya Zaw
    Photo by Aye Than
  • Union Auditor General U Maw Than.

 

Policies of the Union Auditor General Office have been laid down for auditing works in line with the law, encouraging innovations, continuing the momentum for reforms, analysing the real situation factually and conducting effective reform processes.
Encapsulating to the motto of “A Way of Checking and Balancing for Enhancement of Public Finance Management”, the Union Auditor General Office had been striving toward improving the works, increasing transparency, increasing the trust of the people, obtaining the esteem of the people, increasing the effective usage of public fund and resources for the people and assisting the government with qualified auditors with international auditing standards.
Following was the transcript of an interview conducted with Union Auditor General U Maw Than on the works of Union Auditor General Office during the third one year period towards fulfilling the requirement of the changing time.
Q: Please explain about the audit works conducted by Union Auditor General Office during the third one year period.
A: In the past only financial auditing and compliance auditing were conducted but during this three year period performance audit was also conducted. As per the Union Auditor General Law audit findings were reported simultaneously to the President and Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. Accordingly fiscal year wise audit reports of the Union Auditor General were submitted for the three years.
The audit reports include auditing the implementation of Union Budget, Union Tax and National Planning laws from the view point of spending expenses in a sensible way, conducting matters in full capacity, benefit to the people as well as government debt; findings on debts, deposits and temporary accounts conducted in relation to the union fund in addition to the audit findings on financial matters.
Q: Explain about audit on Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Regional Development Fund.

Union Auditor-General meets with State/Region Auditors General in Nay Pyi Taw in October, 2018.

A: Systematic development of regional development works were supported by submitting annual reports up to fiscal year 2017-2018. Regional development works conducted with Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Development Fund was audited starting from fiscal year 2013-2014.
During this period President Office assigned an additional duty of auditing the state/region governments and Nay Pyi Taw Council’s regional development works conducted with regional development funds. Audit finding report was submitted to the President Office on 17 January 2017. This report includes the status of compliance by state/region governments.
In accordance to the changing time and era projects and works were increasingly conducted with loans and aids from foreign and international organisations. Upon the coordination and request of Union Ministries and according to the Auditor General of the Union Law, in addition to conducting normal audits Union Auditor General Office was auditing the projects and works conducted with loans and aids from foreign and international organisations and publishing reports.
Q: Let us know about the status of strategic work program that was being conducted.
A: Strategic Work Program (2018-2022) was drawn up to implement the aims of Union Auditor General Office. 2018 and 2019 yearly action plans of Strategic Work Program were being drawn up and implemented.

Legal framework of Union Auditor General Office. The Law Amending the Auditor General of the Union Law, 2018

As per the action plans ISSAI (International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions) based financial audit, performance audit, law & procedure compliance audit were conducted, handbooks drawn up, workshops held and Pilot Audit conducted. To establish IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) training materials were prepared, included in courses, expand and develop Internal Audit Division, preparations made to publish Quality Assurance Review, send personnel to foreign scholarships, workshops and courses and conduct multiplier courses, arrangements made to hold internal ICT related courses to implement e-Government system, review and re-assess to submit and prepare reports to Hluttaw in accordance to international practices and procedures. The work program also includes participating in the activities of international organisations such as ASEANSAI (ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions), ASOSAI (Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions) and INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions).
Q: What were the noteworthy activities conducted by Union Auditor General Office?
A: One of the noteworthy activities conducted by Union Auditor General Office was the President meeting with State/Region Auditors led by the Union Auditor General on 4 May 2018. At the meeting the President instructed Union Auditor General Office to prevent wastage of public funds, ensure the Union Budget sanctioned by the government reaches the respective entities and were used effectively and fully, check whether the set targets were reached or not, audit union level organisations, ministerial departments and organisations follow through in financial regulations and procedures, whether projects and works conducted benefits the people or not, whether state, public and cooperative owned assets were properly maintained, whether ownerless properties, legally confiscated properties, properties released by owners were properly registered by the relevant authorities, whether internal audits were formed in government departments and organisations and whether these internal audits follow the notices, guidelines and procedures, whether action was taken and reported if there were any cases of wastage and misuse of state funds. Audit duties under these instructions were being conducted with coordination between head office and regions.
Q: Speak about works conducted by Union Auditor General Office toward development of audits.
A: To support the country’s economic development, public and private sector audits, Accounts and Audits Festival 2016 was jointly organised by Myanmar Accountancy Council, Myanmar Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) and Commerce Graduates’ Association (Myanmar) at National Theatre, Yangon in 2016. With the aims of developing the country’s economy, to smoothen and ease the public-private cooperation works for the momentous development of related works in the commerce area, to raise knowledge and information Myanmar Commerce Fair 2018 was successfully held in Yangon Convention Center.

Union Auditor General U Maw Than and senior officials pose for a documentary photo at 4th ASEANSAI Summit in Vientiane, Lao in November, 2017.

Q: What are the plans to raise the auditing capacity?
A: As per the Strategic Plan and according to the motto of “A Way of Checking and Balancing for Enhancement of Public Finance Management”, work plans and the staffs’ collective strengths will be raised by increasing the auditing capacity and to be in line with international norms. As IT and technologies were playing an important role in implementing e-Government system Union Auditor General Office was conducting website upgrades, IT Audit, fulfil required IT infrastructures, setup a Knowledge Platform to share information by purchasing and establishing a Mini Data Centre (MDC) under the Public Finance Management (PFM) project, work toward practicing Audit Management System, conduct IT Audit using Audit Software, upgrading from Window Based to Web Based to use Government Accounting System (GAS) not only in Nay Pyi Taw but also in state/region audit offices, conduct work coordination meeting and other meetings through Video Conferencing System.
One of our aims was to follow and practice IPSAS. Coordinating with relevant governmental departments and organisations, forming of committees and opening of courses will be conducted step by step.
Q: Talk about works on complying with the international auditing norms.
A: So as to complying with the international auditing norms a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation was signed between Union Auditor General Office and Norway Office of the Auditor General as well as cooperating with ADB (Asia Development Bank), World Bank, German development agency GIZ and EU (European Union) toward the emergence of international norms based handbooks and guidelines, to conduct effective audit according to enactments in the Union Auditor General Law and to raise the capacity of staffs.
Action Plan for 2018 and 2019 was drawn up to implement the aims of Union Auditor General Office. As per the Action Plan handbook on ISSAI based norms followed by international audit offices were drawn up, workshops held, Pilot Audit conducted and attended workshops and meetings conducted by ASEANSAI, ASOSAI and INTOSAI.

Reports Published by Union Auditor General Office.

Q: How about cooperation with international auditing organisations?
A: As per MOU with Norway Office of the Auditor General and meetings with ADB, World Bank, GIZ and EU workshops on publishing of ISSAI based guidelines on financial audit, compliance audit and performance audit, pre-planning of Pilot Audit for Performance Audit, drawing up Financial Audit Practical Guide and experimenting according to Roll-Out plan were conducted.
Workshops were conducted in cooperation with Joint Public Accounts Committee in the legal portion for independence, mandate and legislation. 31 work processes related to work process draft for governmental departments and organisations to practice according to IPSAS norms in the four portions of conducting preliminary works, works, continuing works on preliminary works and preparing consolidated accounts will be arranged and conducted. Furthermore road map to accept and practice IPSAS was drawn up.
Q: Explain about audit works conducted by Union Auditor General Office and regional audit offices.
A: Union Auditor General Office and regional audit offices in cooperation with international organisations conducted workshops and on job courses to conduct Pilot Audit according to ISSAI, financial audit, compliance audit and performance audit.

Maubin-Pyapon-Kyaiklat road upgrade project conducted by Ministry of Construction with ADB loan and development of electricity distribution system project conducted by Ministry of Electricity and Energy were audited and audit reports published.
In cooperation with Norway Office of the Auditor General compliance audit and performance audit on Ministry of Electricity and Energy Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise head offices receiving Royalties for fiscal year 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, financial audit on organisation of management committee/joint management committee, sub-committees and sub-contracts were conducted. On publishing of reports, report on compliance with agreement and with the support of EU, audit reports on eight union level organisations’ fiscal year 2017-2018 financial accounts were published. Under the technical support agreement with Norway Office of the Auditor General Performance Audit on Ministry of Health and Sports conducting works in accordance to ISSAI and Pre-Planning to conduct Pilot Audit on irrigation water distribution works of Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation were conducted.
Q. Explain about plan to conduct environmental auditing works.
A. To conduct preliminary audit on environmental policy projects and work processes of relevant ministries implementing Goal 5: Natural Resources & the Environment for Prosperity of the Nation under Pillar 3 People and Planet of Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030) enacted in 2108 August an Environmental Audit Workshop jointly organized by Union Auditor General Office and Norway Office of the Auditor General was held in February 19 and 20 this year. Based on the knowledge gained the workshop an Environmental Audit works will be conducted.
Arrangements were made to setup a Knowledge Platform to share information by purchasing and establishing a Mini Data Centre (MDC) under the Public Finance Management (PFM) project, work toward practicing Audit Management System, conduct IT Audit using Audit Software.
Q. Were there any changes to the law amending Myanmar Accountancy Council Law?
A. The law amending the Myanmar Accountancy Council Law was enacted as Pyidaungsu Hluttaw law no. 5 on 30 January. There’ll be changes in Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law no. 31 and technical words in Myanmar Accountancy Council Law (2015) enacted in 5 June 2015 will be in line with International Federation of Accountant (IFAC) word usage. There’ll be more complete audit types, opening of more vocational subjects on audit, transferring of the works of the Council to relevant committees, registration of course teachers and changes to be in accord with enacted laws.
During the three year period guidance for development of the works conducted by MICPA, permission to register audit works, expanding the arrangement to increase the number of certified public accountant, increasing the number s of private schools and teachers, preparation to comply to international accounts organisations and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) norms starting from 2022-2023 were conducted while works on aligning to the enacted laws will be conducted increasingly.
Myanmar Accountancy Council being an organisation managing private account sector and account experts conducted transitions and reforms to be in line with the time and era and supported the establishment and development of accountancy in Myanmar business sector, tax and financial management.
Q. What was done about human resources development for generating excellent auditors?
A. The staffs were sent to Net Working Course, Microsoft Office Training Course and Web Design Course conducted by Ministry of Transport and Communications to increase their capability in Information Communication Technology (ICT). They were also sent to courses related to Mini Data Centre conducted under the arrangement of Myanmar Public Financial Management Modernization project (MMPFMp), English courses conducted by Modernization of Public Finance Management project, English language courses jointly conducted by Union Civil Service Board and New Zealand Victoria University and to courses for civil servants in upper and lower Myanmar Central Institute of Civil Service.
Q. How about training courses held abroad?
A. As for training courses abroad staffs were sent to University of International Business and Economics (Beijing) and Nanjing Audit University. Two had already returned with master degrees last year and were performing their duties here.
One staff was also sent to higher level English course conducted in New Zealand Victoria University. Personnel were also being sent to courses, meeting, study tour and conferences held by INTOSAI, ASOSAI, ASEANSAI in which Union Auditor General Office was a member as well as courses conducted by international organisations.
Q. Please speak about courses conducted to produce experts in accounts.
A. To provide account knowledge service for personnel in other ministries and organisations basic account and office work courses were held not only in Nay Pyi Taw but also in four state/region audit offices. Mid and higher level accounting course was held in Nay Pyi Taw. Accountancy Diploma Grade 1 and Grade 2 courses were conducted by Myanmar Accountancy Council in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon and were producing more than a thousand personnel every year. Certified Public Accountant Part 1 and Part 2 courses were conducted in Yangon producing more than 300 personnel every year.
Q. Is there anything you would like to add?
A. Union Auditor General Office was striving under the motto of A Way of Checking and Balancing for Enhancement of Public Finance Management” to improve and develop the works of the Union Auditor General Office, to have better transparency, responsible and assume responsibilities, eradicate corruption, increasing the respect and esteem of the people, to become qualified personnel who can conduct works according to international norms and raise the effective utilisation of public funds, assist and support the government with qualified personnel.
Union Auditor General Office and all levels of regional offices were conducting audit works according to Union Auditor General Law for the benefit of the country and the people and will report to the people.
(Translated by Handy Tips)

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