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 Factsheet: Are audit reports an opinion?
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11528 Posts

Posted - 20 Mar 2023 :  22:27:33  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Factsheet: Are audit reports an opinion?
MARCH 20, 2023
By Kebba Jeffang

The claim made by President Adama Barrow over the weekend that the audit reports are opinions has generated a heated debate among Gambians, especially on various social media platforms – with many disputing the claim and others expressing disappointment and concerns over his willingness to fight corruption in the country.

Barrow made the claim in an exclusive interview with Star TV which was published on the platform’s YouTube channel on Saturday and has so far generated over 5k views as of Monday.

The interview addressed several issues, including agriculture, the economy and infrastructure. But the most controversial subject that caused public outcry was corruption. The interviewer Malik Jones asked him about the allegations of corruption in his administration and what efforts or plans he is putting up to address it. In response, the president made the following remarks as quoted verbatim.

What exactly Barrow says

Speaking in Wolof, President Barrow says:

“You know most of these allegations of corruption in my government are emerging from audit reports. And audit reports emerge from opinions. It is not conclusive for us to make decisions. Audit reports can have mistakes and can be biassed. If a claim is made, we must make our internal investigations… We cannot use opinions to give people a death sentence. We must first establish the case first based on the claims made.”

The legality of the audit reports

The production of audit reports is required by the laws of the Gambia, specifically the 1997 Constitution and the National Audit Office Act 2015. Section 159 (1) establishes the National Audit Office as an act of parliament, and it reads: “There shall be a National Audit Office in the public services of which the Auditor General shall be the head and the other members which shall assist the Auditor General in the performance of the functions conferred on him or her by this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly.”

See also Fact-Check: President Barrow Claims Tax Revenue Has Increased By Over 100% Under His Administration
The NAO is headed by the Auditor General. Section 160 of the Constitution tasked the Auditor General to carry out the following mandatory services: “at least once in every year audit and report on the public accounts of The Gambia, the accounts of all offices and authorities of the Government of The Gambia, the accounts of the courts, the accounts of the National Assembly and the accounts of all enterprises; within six months of the end of the immediately preceding financial year to which each of the accounts referred to in paragraph, relates, report to the National Assembly on the accounts and draw attention to any irregularities in the accounts audited and to any other matter which, in his or her opinion, ought to be brought to the notice of the National Assembly.”

How do auditors audit public accounts?

The Economic Times defines an audit as the examination or inspection of various books of accounts by an auditor followed by physical checking of inventory to make sure that all departments are following a documented system of recording transactions with the objective to ascertain the accuracy of financial statements provided by the organisation.

The Gambian constitution provides that the ‘Auditor-General and any member of the National Audit Office authorised by him or she shall have the power to call for and inspect all books, records, returns, reports and other documents in the exercise of the functions.

“Wherever discrepancies of a criminal or fraudulent nature are discovered during the audit of accounts by the Auditor-General, he or she shall immediately cause a report of his or her findings to be submitted to the inspector-General of police,” as per section 160 of the Constitution.

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A difference between a fact [evidence-based] and opinion

It is important to first establish what an opinion and a fact are. According to Lumen, facts are things that we know to be true based on evidence from observation while opinions are beliefs or views that can’t be proven as they are not based on any evidence.

Audit reports: Opinion or evidence-based?

In analysing the president’s claim that audit reports are based on opinion, the following issues are important to take note of. It is true that auditors do have an opinion. However, these are not ordinary opinions as they are based on the assessment they have conducted in their scrutinisation process of the financial statements of the public accounts that they have audited.

For example, Section 20 of the National Audit Office Act 2015 states that: “The Auditor General shall provide an audit opinion on financial statements of each entity for which he or she has a responsibility to audit within six months of the end of the immediate preceding financial year… The Auditor General shall attach the audit opinion to the financial statements of the audited entity and present them to the national assembly.”

According to Accounting Hub, while audit opinion presents the auditor’s view based on the accuracy or otherwise of the financial statements provided to them by entities they audited, auditors based those opinions on the audit evidence obtained during the course of an audit.

Audit reports are considered evidence in court

The audit opinions are not opinions that are generally made. They are made based on the material evidence they have acquired from public institutions in this case such as financial statements. This allows the audit reports to be considered as one of the best pieces of evidence to be produced before a court of law and it is presented in their original form. While opinions can be flagged as hearsay, facts are not. Hence the audit reports are accepted.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11528 Posts

Posted - 21 Mar 2023 :  11:15:11  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Standard: March 21, 20234

Says Barrow’s comments exposes general lack of knowledge about audit

By Omar Bah

Former Auditor General Karamba Touray has said President Adama Barrow’s claims that audit reports are just ‘mere’ opinions exposes the general lack of knowledge about audit and audit reports.

Speaking in a Star TV interview aired Friday night with veteran broadcaster Malik Jones, President Barrow said audit reports are ‘mere’ opinions prepared by individuals who could be biased or make mistakes.

In his reaction a former auditor general Mr Touray said: “While it is true that audit reports are opinions or judgements made by the auditor, they are the result of diligent performance, in good faith and with integrity, the gathering and objective evaluation of evidence.”

He added that an audit is a service that provides assurance to the owners of an entity that it is operating well.

“Auditing is defined as a systematic and independent examination of data, statements, records, operations and performances (financial or otherwise) of an enterprise for a stated purpose. In any auditing, the auditor perceives and recognises the propositions before him for examination, collects evidence, evaluates and on this basis formulates his judgment which is communicated through his audit report. Any subject matter may be audited,” he said.

Touray added that audits provide third party assurance to various stakeholders that the subject matter is free from material misstatement.

“The term is most frequently applied to audits of the financial information relating to a legal person. Other areas which are commonly audited include; internal controls, quality management, project management, water management, waste management, contract management, energy conservation, etc. We conducted our audits in accordance with International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs) issued by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). These standards require that we comply with ethical requirements and plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial transactions are free from material misstatements, whether caused by fraud or error and whether in all material respects, the expenditure and income have been applied in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,” he stated.

He added that the audit includes tests of accounting records, internal controls and other procedures as were considered necessary for the due performance of the audit.

“Or as in the case of performance audit, assess or examine the extent to which an organisation, programme or scheme operates economically, efficiently, and effectively. Performance audits go beyond judgements of compliance and accuracy to also evaluate performance and the value for money obtained through government transactions,” he said.

Mr Touray said a management letter is intended to provide management and those charged with governance with valuable information regarding their organisation.

“It details the issues which were not resolved during the audit and recommendations are made for implementation to improve the accounting and internal control systems, ensure compliance with Financial Regulations, Public Finance Act, Gambia Public Procurement Authority Act and other relevant laws. Management is always accorded the opportunity to react to management letter before the conclusion of the audit so the issue of bias does not arise at all. As a result of an audit; stakeholders may effectively evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and the governance process over the subject matter,” he concluded.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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11528 Posts

Posted - 21 Mar 2023 :  11:35:00  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Spin doctoring!

President Barrow is Committed to Fighting Corruption

Following an extended exclusive interview in the Wollof language, the statement by His Excellency the President that Financial Auditors express various types of audit opinions on Financial Statements should not be misinterpreted as him trivialising the important work of Audit and how much auditors, in general, contribute and help shape the accountability mechanisms in the Public Financial Management sphere.
The President was merely describing the accountability mechanism in a democratic dispensation which obviously would require that a rigorous process of investigation will follow the audit process to confirm facts highlighted in audit findings.

The concern that Government is not adequately following up on allegations of financial mismanagement or misconduct is farfetched and far from reality.

The Government, through the relevant institutions, has demonstrated and will continue to uphold the needed political will to investigate transgressions or all cases of suspected misappropriations or frauds highlighted in audit reports.

The commitment to further strengthen accountability and oversight institutions is evidenced in Government efforts to work with the legislature in passing an Anti-Corruption Bill, a revised Public Finance Bill, an SOE Bill and National Audit Amendment Bill.
It is envisaged that the amendments to the National Audit Office Act will strengthen the National Audit Office and enable it to fulfil its mandate as prescribed by the Constitution, as well as strengthen the National Assembly’s control over public finances
The President has always emphasised that Government institutions investigate material audit findings in accordance with the law. Any accounting officer in charge of a Ministry, Department, Agency or public corporation who is found wanting by an audit report will be held accountable for their actions and will be prosecuted fully for any occurrence of fraud, embezzlement or carelessness.
Also, any person holding a political or public office who directs or concurs in the use of public funds contrary to any law or existing regulations will be held accountable in accordance with the laws of The Gambia.

Therefore, the public is reassured that the executive will continue to welcome work strengthening the mechanism for implementing audit recommendations.

Source: State House

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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