Remote audits, monitoring reschedule, staff working from home – the new normal for SAIs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairs of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation Aleksei Kudrin and the French Cour des comptes Pierre Moscovici exchanged their views on the further development of auditing agenda and the world economy.
Aleksei Kudrin and Pierre Moscovici expressed their opinions on COVID’s influence on the world economy, auditing activities and further INTOSAI development during their online meeting.
First of all, they discussed the current problems in the economies of both countries. “Due to the pandemic Russia has faced a moderate shrink in the economy – 3,6%, сompared to other countries. Proper government policy such as SME support, assistance for the population living below national poverty line, social security, moderate restrictions have contributed to it. This year Russia will see 2,4% GDP growth.
French economic outlook seems to be more positive. According to Pierre Moscovici, despite the 9% drop in the French GDP due to the pandemic, this year growth is estimated at least at 5-6%: “Now the economy is quite sound, but some sectors such as culture, transport, tourism, air transport have suffered much from the latest measures. We hope that we will reach the pre-crisis level in 2022”.
SAIs of both countries have already got the first monitoring results on the COVID-19 issues. The ACRF actively communicates with the government and has already evaluated its measures such as supplements to healthcare staff and access to medication. Results of these audits will be published soon. The Cour des comptes will also present its report on the pandemic consequences in March. Another paper to be published is a report on public spending. This is just a small part of examples that were discussed at the meeting, plans for future are really significant and actually will be very helpful for the government.
The work is in progress, but SAIs face the new normal: remote audits, monitoring reschedule, staff working from home. Only about 30% of employees go to the office now in both countries. The pandemic has forced the use of information and development of new technologies. “We used to get access to financial and audit reporting of auditees, but this situation has made our communication better and more transparent. Now we can get much more information, including internal correspondence in some cases. We are planning to implement artificial intelligence in our audits”, – noted Aleksei Kudrin.
At the meeting both parties also stressed the importance of interaction within the INTOSAI community. The SCEI seminars on COVID issues, discussions with the participants of the INTOSAI Working groups, bilateral and multilateral meetings, education programs will definitely contribute to the effectiveness of auditing institutions. “In April the whole INTOSAI community will gather together at the first online INTOSAI Chair International Scientific and Practical Conference. Our goal is to discuss a progress of organization and its members in different fields, and online format nowadays plays into our hands, as we can invite all SAIs from different parts of the world to participate in this event”, – added Timur Makhmutov, Director of the Department for International and Regional Cooperation.
Among the other themes of discussion, pointed out by the INTOSAI and ACRF Chair Aleksei Kudrin during this meeting, were:
Initiative to create a new Working group on public health auditing;
Donor cooperation within INTOSAI as some SAIs had serious financial problems due to the pandemic;
Promotion of the Moscow Declaration and the survey made by the ACRF;
Observatory on government and SAI initiatives in relation to COVID-19, 70 SAIs’ responses on this issue are published there.