Address By President Akufo-Addo, At 2018 Annual Internal Audit Conference

I am glad to be able to join you for this year’s Internal Audit Conference, being organized under the auspices of the Internal Audit Agency. I note that you have chosen as the theme for the conference, “Leadership and Good Corporate Governance; A key to Effective Public Financial Management.”

I have no doubt at all that you have laid out a phalanx of experts to talk on various aspects of the theme, which, hopefully, will yield a lot of useful insights.

With your indulgence, I intend to direct my comments to your role as internal auditors in the conduct and management of public finances. Maybe we should start with matters on which there appears to be general agreement. There is widespread dissatisfaction among the general public about the integrity of dealings in our public institutions.

More than sixty years after our independence, we have not been able to achieve anything near the promise of our expectations. During these sixty years, there have been many moments of renewed hope when we have felt that we have yet another opportunity to get things right. Somehow, these opportunities have largely turned out to be unfulfilled, leaving the people with a sense of betrayal.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am determined that the sense of hope that was rekindled on 7th January, 2017, will not peter out. I know that there is no better way to retain the confidence of the people than to ensure that public institutions work. I know that I shall keep hope alive when people believe that both the government I lead and myself are serious about the fight against corruption in public life.

As internal auditors, you constitute the first line of defense in that fight against corruption. If you do your job well, you provide an independent and objective assessment of an institution’s operations; specifically, the effectiveness of its internal control structure. When something is going wrong, it can be quickly discovered.

Internal auditors, when they function well, use a systematic and disciplined approach to evaluate and provide assurance services, and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes. If internal auditors are working well, structures of governance will work smoothly.

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about, an example of what happens when public officials like internal auditors do their work. I have been given to understand that the Public Procurement Authority, by simply reviewing contracts brought before it for approval under either sole sourcing or restrictive tendering, has, in the past 18 months, saved the country some GH¢1.6 billion. The whole of 2016, the Authority made zero savings. This is what can happen when our institutions work. In your own individual work places, you can cite your own examples of what you would save the country simply by insisting that people go by the book.

We are human, and I acknowledge that there will always be those among us who would try to abuse the system, and undermine whatever structures there are. There will be those who would try and see what they can get away with, and there are those who might be making genuine mistakes.

It is precisely because we acknowledge the reality of human frailties in all our endeavours that we have internal auditors. The daily and constant checking of systems ensures that the public purse is respected and protected.

When people know that they cannot get away with spending 10 cedis of public money without accounting for it, they hesitate to take 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 cedis.

Every time that we all wince at the details of the reports of the Auditor General at the hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, we know that our internal auditors are not working as they should. Unfortunately, it has become a routine for the Auditor General to uncover cases of financial malfeasance in the public service that would otherwise go unnoticed until he or she appears. It is not pleasant, but we cannot avoid the conclusion that the internal auditor must be either complicit or incompetent. We cannot afford to have internal auditors that would be complicit in the malfeasance they are expected to prevent, and, certainly, we do not need incompetent ones.

From what is euphemistically termed petty corruption, to what must be called grand corruption, the truth is that corruption thrives when no one is checking.

In our circumstances, when there are so many things that need to be done; when roads, schools, hospitals, houses need to be built, it becomes even more urgent that we plug all the avenues for the leakage of public funds.

In our circumstances, when hopes have been dashed so many times, we dare not allow the current opportunity to go to waste. Internal auditors, working as they should, would bring confidence into the public sector. Internal auditors, working as they should, would keep in check not only the lowly clerk, but also the Chief Executive, and, yes, the President as well.

Internal auditors, working as they should, do not generate any drama, but, quietly and effectively, they ensure the smooth running of their departments. Every time there is drama, we can be certain that the internal auditor has not been effective.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I came to this function to emphasize, for the avoidance of all doubt, that the internal auditor is one of the primary weapons in the fight against corruption. I came to reiterate that I need your help in the fight against corruption. I came to renew publicly the sacred vow that I took to protect the public purse. I came also to acknowledge that this is not a battle I can wage or win alone. There are many layers to the protection of the public purse, and internal auditors are its primary defenders. A propos, I want to say that the stringent and desperate efforts being made by my political opponents to tarnish me and members of my family with corruption will simply not wash. I did not come into public life to make money out of public service, and members of my family know fully well that they have to behave, and are not involved in anything untoward. I am aware that you give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. But, this dog will not be hanged.  

I acknowledge the fundamental role that internal auditors play to prevent, detect and reduce corruption, leakages, and waste of public resources. Internal auditors help to ensure accurate and timely information, which helps to improve financial management systems in organizations. Internal auditors lead in the safeguarding of resources and help to strengthen the control system, compliance with laws, policies and procedures in organizations. Internal auditors provide assurance and advisory services to enhance operations and help the organization to achieve its objectives. Even more important is their role in ensuring accountability, transparency and the quality of performance in the organization.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to perfect all stages of our public financial management system to enable us maximize the use of our resources.  

Institutions, such as the Auditor-General, Internal Audit Agency, EOCO and other statutory institutions, will continue to be empowered to carry out their mandate so that relevant laws and policies are complied with.

The recent internal audits carried out at the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), State Housing Company Ltd (SHC) and others, brought out a number of worrying issues. The recommendations from these audits must be implemented to advance the fortunes of these organizations.

I believe internal auditors have what it takes to contribute to good corporate governance and good leadership in the public sector. We promise the auditors our support in fulfilling their mandate under the Internal Audit Agency Act, 2003 (Act 658), and the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). We shall support auditing to bring transparency and accountability into our public financial system.

I am well aware of the frustrations and disappointments of staff, especially in terms of low remuneration or compensation, which sometimes engender such issues. I have spoken on a number of occasions about the importance of time management and the need to increase our productivity. But, it is also important to realize that when time and other resources are not spent optimally, resource generation becomes a problem, and the vicious cycle of low productivity, low resources and low compensation continue to swing from one end to another.

I know there are unresolved issues of salary disparities, conditions of service and work environment, and these are receiving the urgent attention of Government, so that they can be satisfactorily resolved.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to conclude by assuring Ghanaians that Government is on the right path to secure what is good for the country, and will endeavour, with God’s Grace, to work hard to reach our goal. Let us all work hard, and we shall achieve the prosperous and happy Ghana we all envisage.

Chairperson, I pray that your deliberations at this Conference will be fruitful, and will bring sound suggestions for positive changes in ensuring that we build a good corporate Ghana with purposeful leaders in all sectors and at all levels of organizations.

I look forward to receiving a copy of the communiqué on the outcome of your work.

May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.

Thank you for your attention.


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