Home » SLYVIA BLYDEN’S MISEDUCATION ON AUDIT REPORTING

SLYVIA BLYDEN’S MISEDUCATION ON AUDIT REPORTING

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Patriotic Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life, including renowned international organizations, have been issuing out statements, press releases, in solidarity with the Auditor General of Audit Service Sierra Leone, Lara Pearce Taylor, after she was suspended indefinitely by President Bio.

Inasmuch as the President has right to suspend the AG, what has come out prominently is, the hasty decision was done without the due process.

As usual, the role Dr. Sylvia Blyden is playing at this material moment is in the reverse, using the situation to seek attention/currying favours with the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP).

Dr. Sylvia Blyden has been preoccupied with misleading information to dilute the contentious indefinite suspension of the AG and her deputy to some gullible citizens.

By every indication, Dr. Blyden seems clueless about the issue, in a very disingenuous manner, reading from the same hymn sheet of the government. At the end of this piece you will release Miss Blyden’s attack is uncalculated.

Auditing which is a component of the accounting profession is a process that is guided by international principles and standards, and hence the worse the Auditor General could have done in the issue of FCC was to have done what she did by giving one of the least opinion – which is the disclaimer of opinion – assuming FCC was audited separately.

What is a Disclaimer of Audit Opinion?

A disclaimer of opinion is a statement made by an auditor where no opinion is being given regarding the financial statements of a client.

This disclaimer may be given for several reasons. For example, the auditor may not have been allowed or been able to complete all planned audit procedures.

Or, the client restricted the scope of the examination to such an extent that the auditor was unable to form an opinion.

Since the FCC is a components of the General Purpose Financial Statement (GPFS), (GoSL) the opinion rendered on this very 2019 report was the unqualified opinion, which is an evidence that shows consistency from the last two years when the same opinion was issued.

Apparently, this opinion is considered as a clean report, and it further indicates that the auditor is satisfied with the financial reporting, and it is believed that the operations are in good compliance with governance principles and applicable laws.

The fact of the matter is the unaudited FCC implemented projects, which Sylvia is making noise about from the top of her roof is not significant to cause a risk that could have led to material misstatement of the (GPFS)/(GoSL) of the year under review.

Sylvia is ignorant about auditing process and how it is being carried, therefore she does not understand that the primary objective of auditing a financial statement is to provide the users with an opinion on whether the financial statements are fairly present in all material respects.

Ideally, the opinion of an auditor is being based on professional judgement after evaluating the evidence gathered during the audit of financials, and also indirectly on the findings of the many other audits undertaken throughout the preceding year on transactions carried out in the year under reviewer.

DR SYLVIA BLYDEN’s CONTENTION 

2019 audit report on FCC: “Even though the Transform Freetown priorities should form the basis for the preparation of the annual budget of the Council,”

“the Council however failed to link these priorities to the 2019 budget. As a result, the 2019 budget of the Council was not complete due to this omission.”

“Additionally, the projects implemented by other agencies on behalf of the Council were not audited because of lack of information on them at the time of the audit exercise.”

From the highlighted sentence above – an extracted from page 78 of the 2019 Audit report, Lara clearly stated the reason for not auditing the projects implemented by other agencies on behalf of FCC.

Did the Auditor General violate any auditing principles, standards, legal and regulatory frame works? 

The Answer is a no! Auditing is a process that is guided by international principles and standards, therefore, the work of the Auditor General has a limited scope, and it is time bound; hence the Auditor General could at any point determine whether to proceed or not with an audit engagement based on the circumstances, and the magnitude of the audit risk.

For instance, in the FCC scenario above, it would have been time consuming, and costly at the time to do any proper and professional auditing considering that a third party was directly involved, and compounding the problem was the fact that no information was available at the time to guide the process of the engagement.

Assuming the Auditor General had proceeded at the time to audit FCC: the following would have happened: alteration of the scope of the engagement, and consequently go beyond the scheduled time frame, thus that would have had a huge financial implication.

So a professional Auditor would have evaluated the implications, do a cost benefit analysis, and then carry out what is called an alternative audit procedure, and subsequently makes further recommendations.

In as much section 119(2) of the 1991 constitution gives the auditor general the power to auditing every MDA, or body that get support from the consolidated fund, equally it is incumbent upon an entity to make sure your agency or department is audited every year.

What happen if an entity is not audited during a particular year?  Cases like that are not strange and do happen frequently especially in developing countries including Sierra Leone: for instance, for three years (2015-2017) the Ministry of Transport and Aviation was not Audited, albeit it didn’t stop the Auditor General from carrying out the constitutional overarching mandate as prescribed in the above section.

No professional auditor would want to take a risk to audit an entity when the relevant documents that help to guide the process of the engagement are not available, cognizant of a limited scope and time.  

LEGAL, REGULATORY AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARD FRAME WORK (1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone)

Of the fourteen sections of Article 119 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone there is no section that says the Auditor general could be in violation of any of the sections therein for failing to implement 119 (2)(3)

Local government Act 2004

Section 67 (2) (b) balance income and expenditure by way of annual financial estimates of revenue and expenditure;

Yes, councils are required by the above Act to have their financial statements audited every year as mandated by the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.

International Standard On Auditing (ISA) –

Is a professional standards dealing with the responsibilities of the independent auditor while conducting the financial audit of financial information?

These standards are issued by international federation of Accountants (IFAC) through the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).

“ISA 2201 is a standard that deals with those aspects of engagement acceptance that are within the control of the auditor.”

It is crystal clear from the action of Sylvia, one can easily deduce that she is blinded by resentment against both Yvonne Aki Sawyer and Lara Pearce Taylor, as a result she refused to ask the experts on the subject matter to explain to her whether the action of Lara regarding the issue in question was in violation of any auditing principles or regulatory framework.

Lara is a professional Auditor who fully understands her job, so there is nothing that confuse her when it comes to professional Auditing.

Ostensibly, that is why the last paragraph on page 78 of the 2019 Audit report, she gave a reason why the other components were not audited, and any professional auditor could have done the same under the same circumstances. 

Her worship the Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, and Mrs. Lara Taylor – Pearce are women with substance, and high pedigree – they have worked very hard over the years to build their reputation, so no amount of propaganda can easily tarnish their image or name.

Society Watch

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