GIS - 17 September, 2014: The improvement of public sector governance framework through Audit Committees (AC) was the focus of a half-day workshop which was held this morning at the Cyber Tower 1 in Ebène. The main objective was to sensitise participants on the proper functioning of Audit committees and allow members to gain assurance relating to the quality of audit processes.
Around 150 Chairpersons, members of AC and Accounting officers from ministries and departments from the public sector attended the workshop which was organised at the initiative of the Office of Public Sector Governance (OPSG), in collaboration with the Mauritius Institute of Directors and KPMG.
The workshop also aimed at empowering AC members to identify potential problem areas and consider corrective measures; and enabling chairpersons and members to better understand their role and responsibilities in their respective organisations.
The following themes were discussed: strategic role, functions and operational effectiveness of AC in ministries and departments. The resource persons comprised Mr Geeanduth Gopee, director of OPSG; Ms Jane Valls, Chief Executive Officer of the Mauritius Institute of Directors; Mr John Chung, partner at KPMG; Mr N. Oozeer, Senior Chief Executive at the Ministry of Housing and Lands; and Mr S. Purmessur, chairperson of the AC of the Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands.
In his address, Mr Gopee recalled since as at date 34 AC have been set up in ministries and departments and that these committees have conducted over 170 meetings. According to him, substantial improvements in internal controls and meaningful reductions in the number of adverse remarks by the Director of Audit were noted as well as gradual progress in the number of cases attended and resolved. An Audit Committee, he recalled is like a good insurance policy.
He pointed out that in recent years the Audit committees have been increasingly gaining importance in the corporate governance systems in companies, adding that an effective AC requires a commitment of quality and quantity of time.
According to him, a properly established AC with appropriate membership will generally add value to the organisation. In fact the experience and advantages it can bring to an organisation outweigh any cost or management resource considerations, he said.
Ms Valls spoke about governance which she said, is not limited to the corporate sector but is important in the public sector as well. An AC is a key component for effective accountability and governance and the role is rapidly increasing in importance and is expanding in scope, she said.
She pointed out that in June 2013 the Mauritius Institute of Directors and KPMG have set up an AC forum to provide guidance based on the latest legislative and regulatory requirement and to help AC to improve their effectiveness.
Mr Chung from KPMG focused his presentation on the challenges facing the public sector audit committees, namely legislative and regulatory requirements, role clarity, composition, knowledge, skills and experience, commitment and management support.
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