Ho Duc Phoc, auditor general of the State Audit Office of Vietphái nam, is enhancing efficiency & effectiveness in the management và use of public resources


This article was first published in the April 2018 International edition ofAccounting & Businessmagazine.

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When Ho Duc Phoc, auditor general of the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV), first studied finance in the 1980s, Vietnam giới was on the cusp of an economic sea change as the country began lớn abandon central planning.

Today, with the challenge of improving Vietnam’s socioeconomic growth, especially strengthening the management of public finance, Phoc is assigned khổng lồ direct the implementation of audit tasks on management and use of public finance and assets.

In an exclusive sầu interview, he describes the challenges of his role in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Q When you took up this position in năm nhâm thìn, what was the state of public sector auditing systems và oversight?

A Vietnam giới is a developing country which enjoys a high economic growth rate. Its GDPhường is at a rate of 6.7% to 7% per annum; its investment environment has been improved; economic scope and potential have been enhanced; the efficiency in budget management has been strengthened; and positive sầu development in culture và society has been realised. Vietphái nam will continuously develop, with a harmonious implementation of medium- và long-term strategies, plans, và solutions for socioeconomic development such as strengthening administrative sầu resize & improving the business environment; and restructuring the economy in association with growth mã sản phẩm innovation, enhancement of productivity, efficiency & competitiveness.

The SAV is a public financial auditing agency, and our function is to make assessments, confirmations, conclusions & recommendations khổng lồ functional agencies khổng lồ help improve the quality of public finance. We also ayên ổn lớn use our resources efficiently and economically.

We particularly make recommendations to lớn the National Assembly & other agencies about programmes & projects of national importance so we can improve sầu the national system of finance và accounting. We also detect and warn about violations và wrongdoings in the field of finance, then refer these cases for settlement by competent authorities.

We provide opinions on addressing financial irregularities and on retrieving waste và losses in terms of the country’s finances. We make recommendations on dealing with financial wrongdoing, completing the legal framework and other policies so we can mitigate loopholes to prsự kiện losses và waste.

Q What are the SAV’s core values?

A Independence, objectivity and integrity can be considered as the core values which the SAV và its auditors must strictly follow khổng lồ ensure the faithfulness & appropriateness of audit conclusions & recommendations. The SAV’s independence is stipulated in our 2013 Constitution: ‘The State phân tích và đo lường Office of Vietphái mạnh is a specialised agency established by the National Assembly, performing its duties independently & subject only lớn laws, và auditing the management and use of public finance & assets.’ In addition, independence, objectivity & integrity in audit activities are stipulated in each stage of the audit process. Specifically, in the audit planning stage, it shall not be influenced by the audited entities; in audit fieldwork, state auditors shall strictly comply with laws and implement audit standards, processes và methods as well as other regulations of the SAV; audit conclusions shall not be influenced by outside factors which may make audit results incorrect.

Therefore, in order lớn have sầu high-chất lượng staff, the SAV shall ensure the independence, objectivity and integrity of all state auditors. This is very important because the SAV must not be influenced by the audited entities or outside factors. Integrity will help state auditors be brave sầu enough lớn overcome any material or non-material benefits, so they can retain their objectivity when making any recommendations or conclusions of any audit. This is the prerequisite for the unique of any state audit, and this is a requirement for any state auditor.

Q What are the challenges và how vị you propose to overcome them?

A There are always difficulties, challenges and opportunities. Being the auditor general is an opportunity for me lớn contribute my strength và intelligence to lớn my new position; lớn become a good leader who may help the SAV quickly become a prestigious, accountable, professional and modern agency specialising in the examination of public finance & assets, and become a useful tool for the tiệc nhỏ và the state. To vì chưng so, there are some challenges to overcome.

The first is legal barriers. The SAV was referred lớn for the first time by the 2013 Constitution; we also have sầu our State phân tích và đo lường Law năm ngoái, which took effect in January 2016. However, we still have lớn raise awareness of being an objective sầu entity. This is particularly the case as awareness of State Audit Law is still limited & some contents are not stipulated in detail in legal regulations.

For example, the audit report of the SAV is of a legally binding nature. This means that all audited entities must implement the recommendations in the audit reports. However, in fact a lot of audited entities vì not follow our recommendations, & so I think what we have sầu to bởi is lớn create a system of legal documents and to lớn build up a system of penalties lớn apply to these audited entities.

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The second barrier is that of our auditing standards. Our auditing tools và procedures have sầu to change in the context of a changing environment.

The third barrier relates lớn resources. The SAV wants khổng lồ be a prestigious và accountable agency so we have sầu to lớn focus on human resources. There is a shortage in the number of auditors và the chất lượng of staff has been an enduring problem to lớn us. Auditors are not only required to have sầu very high professional skills but they should also pay attention khổng lồ ethical issues. I think we have lớn focus on staff training and the integrity of state auditors. Capability, ethics & firmness of auditors are vital qualities of the SAV.

Q What are some of the SAV’s recent auditing successes?

A In năm 2016, the SAV’s audit results revealed misstated finance of VND38.78 trillion (US$1.7bn), the highest figure recorded in its 22 years of operation và twice as high as in 2015. The preliminary results of 2017 audits revealed a misstated finance value of VND43.66 trillion (US$1.9bn), an increase of 12.5% compared with năm nhâm thìn. In 2017, the SAV audited 21 build-transfer (BT) projects và 49 build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects và suggested a decrease in toll collection time & paybachồng period of 173 years & six months. Besides this, the SAV audited the ‘equitisation’ (privatisation) of six enterprises, recommending an increase in the state budget of VND8.69 trillion (US$381.62m).

In addition, the SAV has also proposed the amendment, supplement & cancellation of many legal documents, including 150 documents in 2016 and 96 in 2017, in order to avoid any possible losses and waste from regimes and policies. It has also recommended disciplinary action on some individuals and groups of individuals khổng lồ ensure discipline in the management and use of public finance và assets.

Q What goals bởi you have sầu for capathành phố building in public sector auditing?

A The SAV has a strategic development plan to 20đôi mươi. We are developing a project that has been approved by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on our development for the next phase lớn 2030. In that project, human resources are prioritised and we have sầu conducted many training courses for our state auditors. First and foremost, we provide training lớn our auditors through the audits they conduct. After the audits are complete we have sầu an evaluation meeting so that auditors can improve sầu their work in the future. Our training institute provides various types of training – from knowledge and skills khổng lồ technical tools – for state auditors. We also sendourauditors to other supreme audit institutions (SAIs) within the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and the Asian Organization of Supreme phân tích và đo lường Institutions (ASOSAI), so that they are trained và learn about new methods.

Q In what ways bởi vì you work with professional organisations?

A The SAV has been a member of INTOSAI since 1996 & of ASOSAI since 1997. We have contributed và also received various kinds of tư vấn from these two organisations. We also cooperate with auditing firms such as Deloitte & EY, and we have signed 19 bilateral cooperation agreements with SAIs and professional organisations/associations around the world, và I can say SAV has successfully accomplished its tasks as a member of INTOSAI và ASOSAI.

We have sầu also received in-depth support from experts in auditing in fields that are new to us such as IT, environment & performance. In addition, wehave done some cooperative sầu audits with foreign SAIs; for example,we did a parallel audit withSAI Pakistan in 2017, and a gas và oil audit with SAI Russian Federation in2016.

In 2009 we signed a memorandum of understanding with ACCA. We skết thúc auditors khổng lồ study for ACCA qualifications, và ACCA shares knowledge, experience và documents with the SAV. We have sầu also held many joint workshops. In this way we help each other, và I think in the future cooperation betweenthe two organisations could be further strengthened.

Q How did you get lớn your current role, and what skills vày you need to be an effective sầu auditor general?

A I was born when the country was at war & grew up in the period of post-war national reconstruction. At that time finance played an important role in any activity in the economy, so I thought that if I studied the field of finance, I could contribute more khổng lồ the rebuilding of the country. And so I chose lớn study at the University of Finance và Accounting.

The task of auditor general brings great responsibility; I’m very honoured. To succeed as an auditor general, apart from gaining qualifications & leadership skills, one should have independence, objectivity & determination along with vision, spirit & the desire to lớn make contributions to auditors & other staff to enable them khổng lồ fulfil their duties.

Q How has auditing contributed lớn Vietnam’s growth?

A I think the SAV has greatly contributed to lớn the national economy of Vietnam. It has tightened financial discipline, và helped other agencies use state resources và natural resources in an economic & efficient manner.

Q What message bởi you have for young people interested in audit?

A Young people have sầu a strong desire to make a contribution to the country as auditing và accounting are professions that make a significant contribution to society. Young people should strive sầu lớn become experts in their chosen fields so that they can contribute khổng lồ the prosperity of the country and human development.