Public finance officials from the governments of Botswana, Ghana and Guyana benefitted from a Commonwealth Secretariat programme to boost financial management, auditing and enterprise risk management skills.
The officials were present in London last week for a three-day practitioners' exchange programme on enterprise risk management and internal audit systems at the Commonwealth's headquarters, Marlborough House, during which Natasha Fields, Finance Manager, Projects and Risks at the Commonwealth Secretariat, provided an overview of the Secretariat’s enterprise risk management systems and processes.
Chazha Matsheka, Acting Deputy Director, Department of Internal Audit, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Botswana stated that she developed a practical understanding of how to implement enterprise risk management at the event.
“Botswana has had an Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework since 2014, but I have now learned practical ways to implement the framework, such as being able to categorize risks within the framework and the risk register,” she said.
Ajay Nathaniel, Internal Audit Manager in Guyana's Ministry of Finance, said he planned to put into practice the skills he had learned from the course, which concluded on 15 June.
“I will design a governance structure with the knowledge I gained from this training as the first step and I will then move on from there, as we develop staffing capacity to develop further. Working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat will be an important factor in the implementation process,” Mr Nathaniel said.
“Public finance officials have the critical task of providing transparent and effective systems so that public services are properly allocated. Strengthening public finance management institutions and systems is an integral element of the support provided to governments by the Commonwealth Secretariat in promoting good governance”, said Augustus Cole, Adviser in Public Financial Management at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
“Never has there been a more important time for governments to ensure public finance is spent wisely and for appropriate measures to be taken in mitigating risks impacting effective and efficient service delivery to citizens,” Mr Cole said.
“Through sharing experiences and participation via structured training during the three days, it is anticipated that participating Commonwealth countries will adopt an enterprise-wide approach to managing risks and be better able to deliver accountable public finance systems, operating according to globally recognised standards,” he added.
Another of the participants, Ransford Agyei, Deputy Director-General, Technical and Field Operations at Ghana's Internal Audit Agency, said: “Ghana started early on in implementing enterprise risk management but has since been making slow progress. However, following this course, we will seek to appoint risk champions in the ministries, departments and agencies to fast-track the implementation process and consolidate work at ministerial levels.”
“This also helps us to meet our need for further decentralisation in the way we work. The role of the audit committee is important and we will concentrate on building the risk management architecture.”
This training programme contributes to the Commonwealth Secretariat's ongoing work to support public administration and governance in Commonwealth member countries through engagement with internal audit professionals in ministries of finance and government agencies.
In May, the Commonwealth Secretariat delivered a practitioners’ exchange programme in Botswana to train public officials from the Ministries of Finance in Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Guyana, Namibia and Sierra Leone.