SAO Officials meetspartner institutions to finalize Public Participation Mechanism in Audit Process

Supreme Audit Office met with the civil society representatives, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, Equality for Peace and Democracy, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, and Open Government Secretariat’s representatives to finalize Public Participation Mechanism in Audit Process at SAO Headquarter on 18th April, 2018. This meeting aimed to follow-up the previous session that was held in this regard at Government Media and Information Centre on 14 March, 2018.

This purpose of this meeting was to collectthe relevant opinions, and suggestions for finalization of public participationmechanism in audit process developed by SAO. The Operational Deputy Auditor General, Mr. Mohammad Mahdi Hussaini said: “Participation and cooperation of the civil society and media representatives was asked to ensure finalization of public participation mechanism in audit process and having a consultative program so that it cannot be deemed as lonely action by SAO”.

He added that though the World Bank has some extra comments on the Draft of the Public Participation Mechanism in Audit Process, but their confirmation has been already taken.  In the meeting held with OGP, they also confirmed inclusion of the civil society and media representatives’ opinions.

Representatives of Civil Society, Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, Equality for Peace and Democracy, Afghanistan Integrity Watch and OGP Secretariat have shared their views and suggestions on finalization and implementation of the program.

Afghanistan integrity watch representative, Jawad Dadban pointed: “we’ve already presented our written opinions to SAO regarding the content of the Draft Mechanism and we suggest that it would be better to use the term “civil society” instead of social organizations used in the draftmechanism. The reason is that all the organizations involved in such technical activities are registered with the Ministry of Justice, butcivil society organizations are dedicated to fight against administrative corruption and transparency are registered with Ministry of Economy. In our point of view the Draft shall include a wider definition civil society.

He added: “We also suggest that civil society representatives should be involved in audit process as OGP committed that at least 7 to 10 cases should be jointly audited. In the draft mechanism, it is declared that   the civil society representatives can be involved only in audit plan development process, planned by SAO through establishing a system for collecting complaints and an annual session.

He expressed his third suggestion regarding confidentiality of information which seems good to be in compliance with access to information law in order to avoid any violation cases in contradiction with this law.  It should be included in the mechanism to keep confidential identity of those who report corruptions.

The Operational DAG replied: “We would like to involve a wide range of citizens, civil society and media representatives in this process because their presence and participation have a vital role in this regard. In addition, we would like to have awareness program for the citizens and assign a committee with permanent members including, Operational DAG, Legal Advisor, Policy and Planning Director, Chief of Staff, Information and Public relation Manager, a representative from one civil society, media and the National Assembly’s accountant committeecombined with an observer from donors.  The committee membersand observer shall be assigned for a period of two year.

Legal advisor, Mohammad Nasim Sahar explained the organization chart, duties and responsibilities of this committee considered in the draft: seven permanent members and two observers in responding to information committee are mentioned in the Article 20 of this draft and article 22 expresses regarding their duties and responsibilities:

  • The leadership of public participation in audit process will be managed through the committee
  • Committee members will be selected for a period of two years
  • Public participation committeeshall develop and revise the executive procedures
  • Respond to presented issues by Public Affairs Audit Department
  • Identify the type of audit in a planned or particular manner
  • Provide specific recommendations on non-respond issues and present it to the SAO leadership for approval.
  • Organizing joint sessions with media, institutions, officials, entities, social organizations, civil society, and citizenswill be the responsibilities of this committee.

Afghan Journalist Safety Committee member, AinuddinBahaduri shared his opinions on confidentiality of information saying that other partner institutions have similarresponsibilities with SAO to turn this program into an assured transparency.

Aziz Rafiee, In-charge of Civil Society Organization expressed two concerning cases: first, the jurisdiction and work authorityshall be determined in this mechanism as civil society representatives. Second, the contradiction and compatibility points of information law in this mechanism shall be compared with access to information law to understand the content and concept of confidentiality and non-confidentiality issues and it should be realized that how the access to information law has defined it.

“It should be cleared to the citizens how they can access the information and the conditions for such access should be cleared to citizens or governmental officials”, said ShahlaQayoumi Peace and Democracy Organization member.

Open Government Partnership representative, Ibrahim Shahab presented his viewpoints concerning to public participation in audit process and said that soon this draft shall be finalized to practically execute it based on intended timeline.

Technical Deputy Auditor General after the discussion, sharing suggestions and opinions recalled that we would revise presented opinions, include it in draft and will successfully implement our programbased on the plan.

It is worth noting that implementing public participation in audit process aims to build culture and provide proper and appropriate awareness for citizens on contribution in audit process conducts by SAO and supports by World Bank Open Government Partnership.

It is to mention that public participation in audit process aims creating a new culture and spreading awareness among citizens regarding their contribution in audit process which is going to be implemented by SAO in cooperation with the World Bank and OGP.