Auditing missions protect the State budget

January 21, 2019 - 11:00

Hồ Đức Phớc, Auditor General of the State Audit of Việt Nam, speaks to Lao Động (Labour) newspaper on his office’s achievements in 2018

Hồ Đức Phớc, Auditor General of the State Audit of Việt Nam. — Photo

Hồ Đức Phớc, Auditor General of the State Audit of Việt Nam, speaks to Lao Động (Labour) newspaper on his office’s achievements in 2018

What are some of the notable activities of the State Audit Office of Việt Nam in 2018?

In 2018, the State Audit Office of Việt Nam (SAV) did quite a good job in our audit missions in Hà Nội and around the nation.

In those missions, we uncovered that many billions of Vietnamese đồng from the State budget was wrongly spent. We hope our report will improve the use of State funds in the future and increase transparency and accountability.

We detected many flaws in Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects. We detected that the total claimed investment of many projects was much higher than the actual cost, and the quality of these projects was not up to the expected standards. We also detected certain problems in land compensation in many projects. These are the two main factors leading to the high cost and low quality construction of some projects.

Results of State Audit mission in 2018 were quite encouraging and it has returned tens of billions of Vietnamese đồng to the State coffers. It also came up with specific recommendations on the use of the State budget in major projects while actively contributing to the fight against corruption and embezzlement.

In 2018, the SAV became the President of the Asian Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for a five-year term. What has SAV done since it was named the 14th ASOSAI President?

Immediately after taking the role of ASOSAI President, SAV came up with a proposal on environmental audits to aid sustainable development. Our proposal was in line with the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDGs).

For Việt Nam, environmental auditing is new. That is why the implementation has faced challenges. The first challenge is that we had to develop our environmental audit procedures for the first time. Luckily we had already issued our first set of procedures by December.

Another challenge we faced was a shortage of human resources in this new field. However, with lessons learned from our environmental assessment visits to Bắc Ninh Industrial Park some 30km from Hà Nội and Vĩnh Tân No. 4 Thermo Power Plant, among others, we improved our skills in the new mission.

Besides the task of environmental auditing, what other areas will SAV focus on?

In 2019, the SAV has laid down three main tasks.

Firstly, it will audit the land use of State-owned enterprises before and after their equitisation. We will also conduct an audit on the enterprises’ development funds. These are the two tasks assigned by the National Assembly. The deadline given to us is to present these two final reports to the full house meeting of the National Assembly in May.

The next audit will focus on the use of public land to exchange for Build-Transfer projects – a persistent issue. We understand this will help the country complete the legal documents on land management to make the Land Law more transparent.

Finally, we will focus auditing efforts on the management of import-export taxes and tariffs, particularly in major economic groups and investment projects using the Official Development Assistance fund.

In 2018 the SAV achieved some notable breakthroughs, particularly in the application of information technology in its audits. Can you share some of the major achievements?

We have successfully developed our IT strategy, which is based on the two foundations of digital data and artificial intelligence.

We hope that by 2021, all our auditing missions will be done online. So far we have developed the software for our assigned tasks and missions. We are confident strong IT development will help us fulfill our tasks. — VNS