An Internal Audit Manual aimed at enhancing financial management in Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies was launched in Accra on Tuesday.
Issued by the Internal Audit Agency and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the manual prescribes the organizational structure, policies, procedures, formats, checklists, guidelines and reference documents to be used by the Internal Audit Unit of the Assembly to carry out its responsibilities and duties.
The document which was published with sponsorship from GTZ, the German Development Agency, is expected to guide the staff of the Internal Audit Unit of the various assemblies in the performance of their roles in promoting good financial governance.
Besides, the manual will help the staff in respect of conducting effective internal audits of assemblies and communicating results to parties and use the documentation as a basis for improving internal systems and control procedures.
Launching it, Mr Hans-Christian Winkler, Deputy German Ambassador, said for a deeper financial decentralization to take place, the systems at the local level must work effectively to promote transparency and accountability.
He said the manual provided a standardized approach to internal auditing and would serve as a useful tool in sending out early warning signals of misuse and misapplication of public resources.
Mr Winkler said good financial management at the local level could harvest public confidence and give the assemblies the needed capacity to generate and use resources.
On the state of Internal Auditing in the country, Mr Patrick Numo, Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency, said remarkable progress had been made in the practice of internal auditing in MDAs and MMDAs since 2009.
Currently, 283 out of 341 MDAs and MMDAs have established and staffed their Internal Audit units as against 58 in 2005.
There have also been improvements in the number of Assemblies and Ministries, Departments and Agencies that have established Audit Report Implementation Committees, signed Internal Audit Charters and submitted Internal Audit Units.
Despite the progress, Mr Numo said, a major challenge was recruitment and retention of senior level Internal Auditors to lead teams because of poor working conditions while the private sector offered attractive remuneration for similar qualifications.
He said while options were being explored to employ more senior level internal auditors, the manual would help guide officers on the job as well as serve as an important ‘coach’ in the absence of the senior auditor.
Dr Volker Monikes, Programme Manager, Ghanaian-German Support for Decentralisation Reforms Programme, asked the public to see audit not as an instrument of control but one of encouragement towards efficiency and improved service delivery.
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