There is no Serious Country without Strong Financial Discipline
"In order to restore citizens' trust in institutions and ensure key preconditions for robust economic growth and development of the county, it is necessary to join forces and build credible, reliable, efficient, effective, transparent and, above all, accountable institutions. Basis for building such institutions, which is also a condition for Serbia's accession to EU, is establishment of public internal financial control mechanisms, and/or efficient financial management", Mr. Sretenović, President of the State Audit Institution, said. At the Round Table "On the Benefits of the Financial Control System", held in the Palace of Serbia, he said that only if we strengthen the financial management and control system, as well as internal audit, we will create basic precondition for more economical usage of budget funds.
From the standpoint of the State Audit Institution, the internal financial control is not at the satisfactory level, evidenced by the reports prepared by state auditors. Numerous budget beneficiaries have not stipulated job positions for internal auditors in their job classification enactments. Certain state authorities did establish internal financial control and internal audit, but, due to inadequate competences, their performance is limited, Sretenović emphasized. He said that when ministers, assistant ministers, state secretaries, fund directors, directors of public enterprises, mayors and presidents of municipalities grasp how valuable the help from internal control and internal audit may be, as the first line of defense from having public funds spent uneconomically and for purpose other than intended, only then we could expect a better situation and results in the public financial control system.
Speaking on benefits of the financial control system, Minister of Finance and Economy, Mr. Mladjan Dinkić, highlighted that there was lack of financial discipline in the Serbian public finances. When there is no appropriate financial discipline, penalty is the only way to establish one. We will be compelled to establish far stronger financial discipline, for without it there is no serious country, Dinkić emphasized. He added that the economic condition may not be improved, unless each dinar from the Budget is used in the best possible manner. Citizens require from us to improve the economic situation, but that is not possible unless each dinar from the Budget is used in an economical manner, which is contributed by internal, and later on external financial control, Minister of Finance and Economy emphasized. Dinkić supported the harsh policy of the State Audit Institution and everything it has done so far, highlighting that the Institution has his moral support.
Robert Gielisse from the Directorate-General for Budget of the European Commission, said that it was positive to see rising number of internal auditors, as well as that external audit has been strengthened.
Without financial management and control, there is no internal audit and vice versa. Financial management and control, internal audit and external audit are the key lines of defense in public finances, Mr. Gielisse said.
Ms Manuela Ferreira Leite, former Portuguese Minister of Finance, emphasized that the public administration must implement all measures in order to spend money economically. She added that it was necessary to promote control at all state levels, in order to raise the public awareness on significance of the control.
Ms. Nataša Prah, Director of the Budget Supervision Office of the Republic of Slovenia, highlighted that it was necessary for managers to accept internal financial control and internal auditors as their advisers, for they can contribute to realization of goals of managers.
As Ms. Ulrika Klingenstierna, Senior Advisor in SIGMA, emphasized, the crucial feature of good public administration is good handing of public finances and establishment of financial discipline.
Mr. Goran Cvejić, Assistant Minister of Finance and Economy, said that by introducing public internal financial control system, the profession of internal auditor is also being introduced. So far, 141 civil servants from 42 public sector organizations have acquired the title of internal auditor, Mr. Cvejić said.
Round table was attended by the representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, members of the Committee for Finance, Republic Budget and Control of Public Funds' Spending, ministers, assistant ministers, state secretaries and secretaries in the ministries of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, representatives of independent bodies, members of the Council of the State Audit Institution, supreme state auditors, mayors and presidents of municipalities, directors of mandatory social insurance organizations, representatives of the National Bank of Serbia and directors of major public enterprises.
Round Table was organized by the State Audit Institution, with the support provided by SIGMA.