The Auditor general of Norway, Mr. Per-Kristian Foss, was on an official visit to Nepal 2-5 September 2014 on the invitation of his Nepali counterpart, Mr. Bhanu Prasad Acharya.
Cooperation since 2008
The Offices of the Auditor General in Nepal and Norway have collaborated since 2008 by exchanging experiences and capacity building to improve the quality of audits performed by the Office of the Auditor General in Nepal. A new phase of the project started in December 2013 and will continue until the end of 2018. The visit is Foss’ first to one of the Norwegian Auditor General’s international projects, and also his first visit to Nepal. Mr. Foss was a member of the Norwegian Parliament for 32 years, and served as the Finance Minister of Norway from 2001 to 2005. Since January 2014 he is the Auditor General of Norway.
On a field trip to Kavre district Norwegian Auditor General Mr. Per-Kristian Foss interacted with beneficiaries of the Rural Renewable Energy and Development Program supported by the Norwegian Embassy in Kathmandu.
Met with PM and political leaders
During the visit, the delegation from the Norwegian Auditor General held meetings with the Prime Minister Mr. Sushil Koirala, Speaker of the Legislature-Parliament Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang, Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharam Mahat, as well as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Janardan Sharma. They also met with leaders of political parties and members of civil society organisations to discuss the role of the Auditor General in Nepal.
Workshop on independence
One of the main events during the four-day visit was a national workshop focusing on the independence of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) of Nepal. The workshop was organised by The Office of the Auditor General Nepal and the Norwegian Embassy, and gathered an audience consisting of CA-members, government officials and development partners.
Norwegian Auditor General Mr. Per-Kristian Foss speaking at a national conference on the independence of supreme audit insitutions, in Kathmandu 4 September.
Independent AG prevents misuse
In his keynote speech, Mr. Foss expressed that an independent Audit Office is crucial to ensure the efficient use of public resources and prevents misuse, fraud and corruption.
– It is high time to anchor the independence of the Office of the Auditor General in Nepal, Mr. Foss underlined, with clear reference to the on-going constitution-drafting process.
The Nepali Auditor General also stressed the importance of independence from the executive and political influence.
– An independent audit institution is a prerequisite element to discharge its responsibility objectively and effectively to promote good governance, Auditor General of Nepal Mr. Acharya emphasised.
OAG fundamental in democracy
In meetings with the Finance Minister and Prime Minister, the delegation from Norway highlighted the Office of the Auditor General as a fundamental institution in a democracy. Both the Nepali and Norwegian officials expressed zero tolerance for corruption in any public and aid money at all levels. In meetings with political leaders from different political parties, Mr. Foss and his delegation conveyed their support to the constitution-writing process of Nepal and expressed hope that a new constitution will be promulgated within the timeframe set by the Constitutional Assembly. He encouraged the politicians to assure the independence of the supreme audit in the new constitution.
Should comply with UN standards
The Norwegian delegation was highly satisfied with their stay in Nepal and hope that the visit has contributed to raise awareness about the important role played by the Supreme Audit Institutions.
– It is important that Nepal comply with the UN resolution no. A/66/209 on independence of Supreme Audit Institutions, in particular independence regarding the budget and the management and organisation of the Office of the Auditor General. In the light of the on-going constitutional process, now is the time to ensure this independence, Mr. Foss says summing up his four day visit in Nepal.
Bonds further strengthened
The Office of the Auditor General of Nepal also see the visit as fruitful and a basis for further cooperation between the two audit institutions.
– It has further strengthened the bonds between the Office of the Auditor General of Nepal and Norway, says Nepali Auditor General Mr. Bhanu Prasad Acharya.
Civil Society Representatives discussed the role of the Office of the Auditor General in Nepal with the delegation from the Norwegian Office of the Auditor General.