The Chambre des Comptes of the Supreme Court of Cameroon benefits from diversified technical cooperation and aims for greater international cooperation

Source: Flag- Adobe Stock Images, Tarik GOK; Logo- Chambre des Comptes of Cameroon

By Arnaud Claude SADOA and Antoine NWAHA NWAHA, Magistrates, Auditors at the Chambre des Comptes (Chamber of Accounts) of the Supreme Court of Cameroon.

28 years after its creation by the Cameroonian constitution of 1996 and 20 years after the effective start of its activities, the Chamber of Accounts (or in French, the Chambre des Comptes) of the Supreme Court of Cameroon continues its transformation into a modern public auditing institution with the support of its peers and technical and financial partners.

Cameroon’s Chambre des Comptes, a jurisdictional auditing institution by nature

Source: Chambre des Comptes of Cameroun

From the origin, the Chambre des Comptes of Cameroun is a public auditing institution with jurisdictional competence. It is a jurisdiction whose members have magistrate status, following the jurisdictional model of the Courts of Audit. Historically, and in accordance with the provisions of the 2003 law which organizes it, its activity was centered on the control and judgment of the accounts of public accountants. At the time, its main role was to rule on the liability of public accountants by sanctioning any breaches of their obligations.

Since 2018, the Chambre des Comptes has been providing public finance control aligned with international standards.

In 2018, the Cameroonian Parliament enacted a very significant extension of the Chambre des Comptes’ area of competence through two laws of July 11, 2018 respectively on the Code of Transparency and Good Governance in the Management of Public Finances and the Financial Regime of the State and Other Public Entities. These laws strengthen the jurisdictional remit of the Chamber, which is now competent to judge not only public accountants but also authorizing officers and financial controllers. The Chamber has also been entrusted with all the other powers devolved to a Court of Audit: management review, evaluation of public policies, assistance to public authorities, certification and public information.

The laws of July 2018 also give the Chambre des Comptes its independence as an external public finance control institution, and can act autonomously from the government and Parliament. It is from this independence that the Chambre des Comptes derives its legitimacy. The Chambre des Comptes is free to define its work program, freely adopt its conclusions, and has the legal capacity to freely publish its reports.

The implementation of these new powers has considerably increased the visibility of the financial jurisdiction in the public arena, and boosted its performance. The media coverage from the audit reports on the use of resources allocated to the fight against the coronavirus is a perfect illustration of this. At the same time, however, the implementation of these new powers raises a number of challenges that the jurisdiction is striving to meet, with help from international colleagues and the support of technical and financial partners.

The Chambre des Comptes expands its capacity-building partnerships

Peer support:

Support from AISCCUF

The Chambre des Comptes became a member of the Association of Supreme Audit Institutions having in common the use of French (AISCCUF) in 2015. Since 2018, it has represented Cameroon within this body. In this capacity, the Chambre des Comptes takes part in the capacity-building activities organized every year. A delegation of two auditors took part in the TOP Congress of young auditors in Dakar (Senegal) in July 2022, while a delegation made up of four magistrates and a registry administrator took part in the Bucharest professional seminar in July 2023, where it was able to promote the results of the jurisdiction’s work on the control of expenditure dedicated to the health crisis.

Source: Chambre des Comptes of Cameroun

The French Cour des comptes: the privileged partner

Since 2006, the French Cour des comptes has actively contributed to strengthening the capacities of the staff of the Chambre des Comptes. This dynamic cooperation was consolidated by the signing of a first agreement between the two institutions in 2015, renewed in Paris on October 26, 2022. Thanks to this agreement, the French Cour des comptes welcomes each year a minimum of four Cameroonian auditors to training sessions for newcomers to financial jurisdictions. It also welcomes delegations of Cameroonian magistrates for internships, study trips and authorizes on-site assistance missions in Cameroon.

Signing of the cooperation agreement between the SAIs of Cameroon and France by YAP Abdou and Pierre MOSCOVICI. Source Cour des comptes

New partners: the Courts of Accounts of Romania, Senegal, Burundi and Morocco

The Chambre des Comptes intends to forge new partnerships with other Court of Accounts and supreme audit institutions from around the world. On December 5, 2023, it signed a cooperation agreement with the Romanian Court of Audit. The implementation of this agreement should make it possible to strengthen the skills of the staff of Cameroon’s financial jurisdiction in the field of performance auditing.

Signing of the cooperation agreement between the SAIs of Romania and Cameroon by Mihai BUSUIOC and YAP Abdou. Source Cour des Comptes

Similarly, new agreements are being negotiated with the Courts of Audit of Senegal, Burundi and Morocco.

Signing in Paris of cooperation agreements between the SAIs of Cameroon, Senegal and Romania. Source Cour des comptes

Support from foreign donors and technical partners:

The European Union’s Grant and Technical Assistance Program

Through the Support Project for Strengthening Public Finance Management (PARGEFIP 2019-2023), the European Union (EU) has been supporting the Chambre des Comptes since 2019 as part of a major grant, after funding the development of its strategic and operational plan in 2018. With technical assistance from Expertise France, this grant has financed training and coaching initiatives for around a hundred magistrates, including some 80 new auditors recruited in recent years. It has also financed the development of numerous other guides and manuals of procedures.

Source: Chambre des Comptes of Cameroun

With the permanent support of an international technical assistant and the intervention of other short-term experts recruited for specific needs, EU support has been deployed around four priority axes: institutional strengthening, reinforcement of human and material resources, digitization of processes and visibility of the institution. Among the concrete results of this grant are the acquisition of computer and video-conferencing equipment, rolling stock, the upgrading of the jurisdiction’s website and the implementation of an intranet and registry software.

Source: Chambre des Comptes of Cameroun

Support from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the German cooperation agency GIZ

The Chambre des Comptes’ international cooperation has been seen through a longstanding relationship with the European Union. The Chamber’s recent actions have enabled it to diversify its portfolio of international development partners. The relevance of its work and recommendations have enabled the Chamber to convince and win the confidence of public authorities and donors, so that the latter are mobilizing to support the development of this young financial jurisdiction.

In 2022 and 2023, the World Bank financed a training program for the Chambre des Comptes in computerized auditing, followed by pilot audit missions to certain public establishments.

The IMF recently published a report (IMF, Technical Assistance Report – Governance and Corruption Diagnostic, December 2023), which makes recommendations for consolidating the Chamber’s status and institutional positioning.

Since 2021, the African Development Bank (ADB) has regularly entrusted the Chambre des Comptes with auditing the projects it finances in Cameroon. Since 2023, the German cooperation agency, GIZ, has also been supporting the Chambre des Comptes in training activities on auditing decentralized local authorities.

Aim for Continued International Cooperation

The Chambre des Comptes of Cameroon is multiplying cooperation actions to establish its skills and have the means to fully play its role as a citizen institution in the public sector auditing sphere. The Chambre des Comptes would like to be a part of numerous international engagement opportunities, notably for sharing experience, training and professionalization. Further cooperation with international auditing organizations and institutions provide know-how based on the experience of other organizations and SAIs, and ensure high-quality training for the benefit of their members. Having greater international cooperation would help grow the Chambre des Comptes of Cameroon to develop greater capacity, learn from others, and have optimal implementation of its skills to provide oversight and accountability.

The authors, Arnaud Claude Sadoa and Antoine Nwaha Nwaha. Source Chambre des comptes du Cameroun
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