Auditors: Stop interfering

26Sep 2016
Edward Qorro
The Guardian
Auditors: Stop interfering

INTERNAL auditors in the country have voiced strong concerns over declining levels of professional independence in their field, accusing top managements and CEOs of the organisations they work for of too much interference.

Gabriel Mwero

The auditors now want government institutions and agencies to adopt the independence and objectivity rulebook for internal auditors, known as ISO number 1100, as contained in their Professional Practice Framework (IPPF).

According to Institute of Internal Auditors Tanzania (IIA) vice president Gabriel Mwero, absolute freedom and independence is sadly a far cry from reality for most practitioners of the profession in the country, putting them in a compromising situation more often than not.

“As internal auditors, we don’t enjoy such independence while discharging our duties because top company managers and executives are constantly meddling,” said Mwero, who was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the third Board and Audit Committee Workshop being held here.

He said the situation was so even after the National Board of Accountants and Auditors (NBAA), through its technical pronouncement number two of 2011, recommended absolute independence for internal auditors in the country.

Five years down the line, they are still being subjected to frequent interferences from organisational chiefs from board members to chief executive officers and even down to departmental managers, in some cases, he added.

“The roles of the executives, boards and audit committees continue to evolve in response to ever increasing responsibilities and requirements, which is important if we are to achieve organisational excellence”, he said.

According to Mwero, internal audit is a vital function for private and public sector organisations in support of governance responsibilities, and those who are responsible for this function should therefore be left to do their jobs unhindered, including offering independent and objective judgment and advice to boards and CEOs with regard to matters of organisational finance.

At the same time, members of internal audit teams must be appropriately qualified, experienced, trained, and properly resourced, Mwero added.

The IPPF states that internal auditors must have unrestricted access to all parts of an organisation and operate free from interference or obstruction.

While it works closely with the executive, internal audit must be independent of the activities it is auditing, and its functional accountability must be to the board, either directly or through an audit committee.

According to a member of the board of directors at privately-owned Strategis Insurance Limited and an internal auditor himself, Nada Margwe, there appears to be a deliberate move to frustrate the work of internal auditors across the country.

Margwe challenged the government to give NBAA full mandate and authority to effectively regulate the profession and ensure that the pronouncement it made back in 2011 on ‘absolute independence’ for internal auditors becomes adopted in the country.

The three-day workshop brought together members of audit committees from public and private sector organisations across the country.