State auditors need power to fight violations

Created 08 June 2019
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The State audit must be given more power to improve the management of State assets, National Assembly deputies said on Friday.

General Auditor of the State Audit of Vietnam Hồ Đức Phớc responded to National Assembly deputies' comments on Friday. — VNA/VNS Photo Phương Hoa

HÀ NỘI — The State audit must be given more power to improve the management of State assets, National Assembly deputies said on Friday.

According to NA deputy Đỗ Ngọc Thịnh, only administrative wrongdoings regulated in the Law on handling administrative violations released in 2012 can be handled.

However, the law does not include violations and solutions for those violations in the State audit activities as well as the authorisation of the State Audit of Vietnam (SAV).

The missing piece of regulation clearly narrowed the power that the State audit agency should have when dealing with violations in the management of State assets, he said.

The State audit agency should be allowed to penalise violations revealed by audit activities within its power, Thịnh added.

However, there should be additional items regarding the State audit’s authorisation in the Law on handling administrative violations, he said.

Many cases involving economic violations and corruption had been revealed but the process of handling those cases was slow, deputy Nguyễn Quang Dũng said.

Dealing with those cases had mostly involved the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), he said.

But in fact, those cases were quite complicated, so an independent unit should get involved and assist them in handling the cases, Dũng added.

The State audit, as an independent unit beside the SBV and MoF, should be empowered to assess the violations revealed in those cases, he said.

According to SAV auditor general Hồ Đức Phớc, the SAV staff are fully capable of handling the assessment of violations.

“If the SAV is allowed to conduct its own assessment, the agency will send officials for training before taking part in handling violations,” he said.

Regarding administrative violations that NA deputies raised at the discussion, the State audit was only eligible to penalise individuals and organisations that do not provide necessary documents for auditors and prevent auditors from doing their job, he said.

NA deputies on Friday also agreed the Law of Audit must be changed to make SAV more jurisdictional.

Deputy Đàng Thị Mĩ Hương said that if the reports and results finalised by the State audit were executed strictly, the fight against corruption would improve.

When the SAV published audit reports, the agency must provide additional penalties to make individuals and organisations accept its decisions, she said.

Hương’s ideas basically comply with existing regulations saying that the State audit agencies’ decisions are mandatory to the targeted subjects.

There are some obstacles in the relationship between the State audit and the audited that the Law of Audit must resolve, according to deputy Lê Thanh Vân.

Firstly, tax payers are unable to appeal auditors’ decisions, bringing the cases to the supervisors and resolving them completely.

Secondly, the decision of the State audit may contradict the decision of the court about the result of a case. While the SAV is not authorised to issue legal and administrative documents, it has remained difficult for the State audit to handle appeals of audit reports.

Vân suggested any individuals or organisations who want to appeal the State audit’s decisions, must appeal to the audit agency first, then the general auditor of SAV and the Audit Council, and finally the court.

SAV provides valuable oversight on public resources

The State Audit of Vietnam (SAV) had revealed financial issues at SOEs worth VNĐ414 trillion (US$17.6 billion) since its establishment in 1997, according to Đào Xuân Tiên, deputy auditor general of the SAV.

It had also asked the Government to amend 1,200 legal documents in order to plug policy loopholes during that time.

Tiên made the statement at a workshop entitled “The Role of the State Audit in the Country’s Development” held in Hà Nội on Thursday.

According to Bùi Đăng Dũng, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Committee on Finance and Budgetary Affairs, the SAV played an important role in supervising the management and use of State assets as well as detecting violations in public projects.

Data provided by the SAV was a reliable source of evidence for the National Assembly to undertake the task of supervising ministries and agencies.

Dũng cited the auditing of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects as example. SAV inspections of 61 BOT projects had reduced the time it would take for those projects to be transferred to the Government by 222 years, he said.

Challenges

While the SAV had made certain achievements in helping the Government effectively manage national resources, preventing corruption and contributing to the transparency of the financial sector, Tiên said there were still shortcomings in the organisation and operation that needed to be dealt with.

The scale of auditing had been expanded, but it had still not kept up with the requirements, he said, adding that a legal framework for auditing activities had yet to be completed.

Synchronising the expansion while improving the quality of auditing and staff remained a big challenge, he said.

Dũng asked the SAV to complete the legal framework focusing on the settlement of overlaps between the inspectorate and auditing agencies and the application of information technology.

“All agencies that use the State budget and financial resources should be audited,” he said.

Regarding the management of financial resource at public universities, Huỳnh Thành Đạt, president of the Vietnam National University (HCM City), said supervision was a must to prevent resources from being wrongfully exploited.

Participants at the workshop exchanged views to find solutions to build the legal framework and restructure personnel to enhance the role of the SAV in the management and use of public finance and assets. — VNS

 

Source: VNNS

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