Against the backdrop of the Cashgate—the systematic looting of funds at Capital Hill— internal auditors in Malawi have been urged to be more vigilant as they play an important role in internal controls and governance.
Speaking on Friday in Mangochi during this year’s internal auditors’ conference under the theme ‘Internal Auditing in the Global Economic and Political Turbulence’, George Patridge who was guest of honour, said the culture of internal control is deteriorating.
Patridge, who is chief executive officer of National Bank of Malawi (NBM), said spectacular collapses of organisations have been due to failures in internal controls, noting that Cashgate is a result of collapse in internal controls.
“Internal auditors have the task to serve organisations in accordance to ethics. The operating environment is becoming more complex because of connectivity and globalisation. There is need for attention on internal controls,” he said, adding that internal auditors are indispensable.
Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Malawi president Andy Chitete, speaking in an interview on the sidelines of the conference, said their role is advisory and it is up to organisations to take the advice.
“We have made some noise on the Cashgate, but perhaps we are not doing as much as we are expected to do. Organisations are now recognising and appreciating the roles that internal auditors play.
“So far, as an institute, we achieved a number of things, including having a secretariat, having increased the number of continuous professional development courses. We have also increased the membership to about 150,” he said.
Chitete, however, noted that there are a number of internal auditors especially those working in government who have not jointed the institute.
But he expressed hope that more will join the institute after the enactment of the Internal Auditor Act which he said is in draft form.
Chitete further noted that there is an enormous need globally for internal auditors to add value in the improvement of governance, risk management and controls in both the private and public sectors.
Apart from Patridge who gave a keynote address, the conference that ran from August 28 to 31, had presentations on cooking books, addressing IT security risks, audit reports that command attention and impact change and how the internal audit changes the economy.
During the conference, Cashgate forensic auditors Baker Tilly director of international development services Mark Sullivan made a presentation on essential skills for today’s public sector internal auditor. n