Guyana yesterday challenged the Region’s premier auditing body, the Caribbean Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions [CAROSAI] to embrace change and champion modernisation of the legal framework to help position the Caribbean to maximise benefits from the efficient allocation of financial capital.
CAROSAI opened its 11th Congress at the Ramada Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara with Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee [PAC], Mr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, and PAC member, Public Health Minister, Mrs. Volda Lawrence, urging realignment with global trends to avoid negative outcomes.
“CAROSAI as the umbrella and guiding organisation of the Region must ensure that the auditing standards and techniques are in sync and on par with international guidelines, so that the Caribbean is not left behind and our member states can optimise their auditing ability to derive the best possible outcomes…the efficient allocation of capital,” Lawrence told her colleagues who represented the 23 countries of the 31-year-old body.
Guyana first hosted a CAROSAI Congress in 1997. This year’s Congress of the auditing body is held under the theme: ‘Vision of Performance for Relevance and Success’.
Local PAC Chairman, Irfaan Ali, in his address urged Regional auditors to “embrace challenges and changes and avoid lineal thinking if Caribbean countries are to be positioned to leapfrog into the future.”
Guyana’s Auditor General, Mr. Deodat Sharma, replaces outgoing Chairperson, Surinamese Mrs. Charmain Felter, as the next Chair of CAROSAI.
In her parting address, Felter reminded the 11th Congress of global trends such as comprehensive reforms sweeping the auditing sector, and said the Caribbean must be able to respond while forging to remain relevant. The latter, she said, is forged through “new relationships” with such umbrella bodies as the global United
Nations and the regional Caribbean Community [CARICOM].
Mr. Marc Belanger, Canadian Programme Officer of the Audit and Accountability Foundation and Mrs. Lorena Solórzano the Chief of Operations attached to the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB] also addressed the forum focusing on, among other things, ethics and integrity as key elements of good governance to be embraced by Regional auditors.
Meanwhile, Minister Lawrence, a trained accountant, in her keynote address reminded her peers that “high quality financial reporting plays a pivotal role in our capital markets [and] is essential to the success of our respective economies.”
Globally, she said, “the auditing field is closely watched to ensure they remain out of governments’ influence, so that their independence is not compromised, that audit quality is not prostituted and audit regulation is constantly modernised to eliminate deficiencies in critical aspects,” Lawrence noted.
“In this regard, reforms to auditing are widespread in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in Continental Europe, and it is incumbent upon CAROSAI to become au fait with these reforms and in turn to apprise member states of same, so that evaluations can be done on how those reforms can be utilised to enhance our audit mechanism given its intrinsic value to the capital markets and the auditors’ opinion upon which investors rely heavily,” Lawrence said in her address. She said too that transparency, reliability, credibility and relevance of audits
must remain paramount.
Lawrence, nevertheless, praised the work of Guyana’s PAC, even though she pointed out that it is still a work in progress as members are still learning about the vagaries of the parliamentary body. In her deliberation, she also called on auditing bodies of the Caribbean to familiarise themselves with the role o
f parliamentary PACs “and the need for them to be incorporated in their Accounting Framework”.
“I am aware that in the smaller SAI [Supreme Audit Institutions] member states, the turnover of representatives in office is rapid, and hence PACs are challenged to operate in an effective manner. CAROSAI must therefore find solutions to address the deficiencies in the Region. Some Member SAI States, because of the construct of Parliamentary systems, have many challenges in terms of how the Auditor General’s report is addressed,” Lawrence said.
For this reason, she insisted that CAROSAI must be able to operate outside the box and ambit of SAIs.
“CAROSAI must impress upon Governments in the Region the need to reform laws and legislation, which are no longer relevant and which impede progress,” said Minister Lawrence, in stressing the vanguard role of the body.
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