Thursday, 08 July 2021
Address of President Xhaferi at the promotional event of IPA Twinning Project “Improvement of External Audit and Parliamentary Oversight”
Distinguished Head of EU Delegation to North Macedonia, Ambassador David Geer,
Distinguished auditor general of the State Audit Office of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Maksim Acevski,
Distinguished Auditor General of the State Audit Office of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Ivan Klesic,
Distinguished President of the National Audit Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Cvetan Cvetkov,
Distinguished project leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me today, that I can on my behalf and on behalf of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia greet all of you who are present here at the European house and those who follow online and express my views on the IPA Twinning Project “Improvement of External Audit and Parliamentary Oversight”. The Assembly, as a representative body of the citizens, has the undeniable right and liability to take care of the interest of the citizens and the way public money is spent and one of the ways to strengthen the mechanisms for parliamentary oversight is certainly strengthening the cooperation with the most adequate institution in the country for it, i.e. the State Audit Office which as an independent institution, timely and objectively informs the Assembly on all audit findings which are concluded in the conducted audits. In the past period, between the legislative and the State Audit Office has been established a practice by the end of the current year to be submitted the Annual Work Program of the Office for the coming year, which serves to inform the Assembly about which entities will be audited in the coming year. Afterwards, each final audit report is submitted to the Assembly for information and until the 30th of June in the current year is also submitted the Annual Work Report for the previous year. This report is reviewed by the Assembly and then according to it conclusions are adopted.
Within the first Twinning Project for strengthening the cooperation of the Assembly with the State Audit Office, as part of the EU support, were realized two study visits of MPs and parliamentary service of the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia and the Parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria, in order for the members of the Finance and Budget Committee to get acquainted with the manner and modalities of reviewing the final audit offices of these two countries. Study visits are important as the MPs are introduced to the institutional framework of cooperation, the processing of audit reports, their review and discussion, and decision-making on them by the Parliaments of EU member states. Through exchange of experiences they enable to determine what reform steps should be taken by the Assembly, especially legal and institutional, in order to establish a sustainable system of cooperation between the State Audit Office and the legislature in the area of oversight of public spending and greater accountability of public bodies and institutions that are financed from the state budget. Thanks to that experience, the Assembly has already started consultations on the formal treatment of audit reports in order to establish an effective mechanism for reviewing audit reports and reaching conclusions on them. The most relevant body to review audit reports is of course the Finances and Budget Committee, but the establishment of a subcommittee within the Finances and Budget Committee is also being considered. Amendments should be made to the State Audit Law which would introduce a legal obligation to review the final audit reports, because at the moment, according to the existing legal solution they are submitted to the Assembly – as I emphasized several times above – only for information. To that end, in the 2021-2023 Strategic Plan of the Assembly it is planned to incorporate a mechanism and an established practice of submitting the final audit reports, grouping them by topics, introducing them to the MPs and reviewing the final audit reports in the Assembly.
In the frame of this twinning project, the first step is the preparation of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Assembly and the State Audit Office, which I hope we will be able to sign by the end of August, because the draft Memorandum is already ready and will be presented to the Assembly. What is important when reviewing audit reports is to become accustomed to having a high level of unity between the various political options, to be objective, irrelevant to who holds the executive or to which political option a particular elected official belongs, that is, regardless of which parties are in power and which in opposition – the approach to the treatment of audit reports should be uniform, objective, transparent, with a high level of expertise in reading, understanding and deciding on audit reports by MPs.
Let me thank you for your attention and wish you success in the implementation of the Project!