Ethiopia: Auditor General Office Gets More Power

The Audit Services Corporation will be reporting to the Federal Auditor General rather than parliament, according to a new proclamation that was legislated at the end of last week.

Previously, the Corporation that audits state-owned enterprises has been operating autonomously, directly reporting to parliament. It has also been assisting the Office of the Auditor General. The amendment will also enable the Auditor General to involve the audit report of the state-owned enterprises, which was not the case previously.

The new proclamation made the Corporation operate under the Office, to follow the audit guidelines, standards and principles of the Office.

The Corporation has only been conducting commercial audits that do not involve compliance audits, including environmental and safety audits that are conducted by the Office of the Auditor General.

"It will be our arm," said Gemechu Dubiso, the auditor general, "and it will follow our guidelines."

The proclamation has also empowered the Office to form an independent institution that will audit the accounts of regional budgetary subsidies and special grants allocated by the federal government to the regional states.

Reporting to the Office, the new institution will be established by a legal framework that will be legislated by parliament.

Even though the Office gets back the two mandates with the new amendment, it used to undertake the activities three years ago, according to Gemechu.

"The proclamation amendment of 2016 had stripped the two mandates of the Office without clear reasons," Gemechu told Fortune.

The proclamation gives the Office more professional and organisational independence based on international standards, according to the new proclamation.

The amended proclamation also stipulates benefit packages for the departing Auditor General including a public pension and all the benefits a minister is entitled to. When the Deputy Auditor General departs the Office, he will also leverage the privileges given to state ministers. The benefits targets empowering them and increasing their confidence and independence.

Terms of the two top executives of the Office are also extended to two terms, 12 years in total.

"It will energise the new appointee to engage the job with confidence," Gemechu said.

An expert on accounting and finance for more than a decade and a lecturer at Bahir Dar University applauds the amendments empowering the Office of the Auditor General.

But he believes the Office needs a competent and adequate workforce that could shoulder the accountability and responsibility the empowerment will introduce.

"The Office has to play a significant role in revising the curriculum and knowledge transfer to the youth," said Abebe Walle, "to produce more competent and ethical auditors from the higher education institutions."

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