by Fatos Çoçoli, Albanian Supreme Audit Institution
The Albanian Supreme Audit Institution (ALSAI) organized its fourth Annual Scientific Conference in Tirana, Albania June 20-22, 2016. The conference, entitled “Risk Analysis,” garnered much attention, including that of the European Parliament (EP), represented by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dr. Igor Šoltes, Deputy Chairman of the EP Budgetary Control Committee.
The conference, co-chaired by Dr. Šoltes alongside Dr. Wojciech Kutyła, Vice President of the Supreme Audit Office of Poland, saw more than 150 representatives from partner SAIs, as well as local academics, professors and experts in various fields of audit and public finance management. The risk analysis conference was designed under INTOSAI’s motto “Experentia Mutua Omnibus Prodest” and highlighted the regional problem of the lack of due risk analysis in public institutions’ major decision making.
The conference’s central message was that countries of the region do, in fact, face similar risks and that these risks should be dealt with in a professional manner and high level of integrity. Public institutions should cooperate with each other to gain maximum contributions for recognition and risk mitigation.
Dr. Šoltes recommended working groups be established to combat this phenomenon that continues to undermine public finances. “We all should play our role to fight corruption,” said Šoltes, who added, “although in these last two years, it has spread even more in the European Union into areas such as construction, energy, transportation, defense and public health.”
According to Šoltes, educating public administration staff who manage public finances is extremely important and, in this context, the SAI plays a significant role in strengthening citizens’ trust in state institutions. He concluded by urging the country’s authorities to fortify institutional independence to better ensure efficient and proper tax collection and use of public funds.
ALSAI’s Chairman, Dr. Bujar Leskaj, identified systematic corruption as a major risk in Albania and presented a map of risk areas that threaten the country due to high public debt, irrational exploitation of natural resources and a lack of clear rules on concessions and public-private partnerships. Leskaj echoed the concerns raised by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and United States Agency for International Development offices in the country.
Albania’s Minister of Finances, Mr. Arben Ahmetaj, agreed with Dr. Leskaj’s map of risks and noted that commentary should be prepared with the SAI’s recommendations serving as precedents and standards for public administration.
Dr. Milan Dabović, President of the Senate of the SAI of Montenegro, provided a detailed analysis on the definition of risk, materiality and sampling at the audit’s planning stage. Representatives of the SAIs of Croatia and Turkey also provided presentations at the conference where they highlighted experiences of their respective countries in risk analysis.
At the conclusion of the conference, ALSAI agreed to develop a review on risk analysis, as well as a risk map for 2017-2018.