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Quality audits crucial for public trust, says former NZ PM Clark

Tuesday 21 May 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Pacific Islands, Regional

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Quality audits crucial for public trust, says former NZ PM Clark
Cook Islands Audit team with goodwill ambassador for the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Donor Co-operation Helen Clark on May 20, 2024. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 24052010

The 25th Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) Congress highlighted the importance of independent audit reports for public trust and good governance in the Pacific.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark says quality and timely audit reports are important for maintaining public trust.

Clark, who is the goodwill ambassador for the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Donor Co-operation, was the keynote speaker at the opening of the 25th PASAI Congress held at the National Auditorium yesterday.

Addressing about 65 delegates from the Pacific region including auditor generals from 20 developing countries, New Zealand and Australia, Clark said quality and timely audit reports required dedicated professionalism from staff and high-quality management systems.


Delegates from the Pacific region including auditor generals from 20 developing countries and New Zealand and Australia at the 25th PASAI Congress official opening on May 20, 2024. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 24052009

“In this capacity, I advocate for the independence of Supreme Audit Institutions. Coming from the South Pacific, I have a particular interest in the good work which public audit offices in our region are doing to strengthen their performance.”
Clark, who served as NZ prime minister from 1999 to 2008, highlighted the importance of independent external auditing and the need for sound public financial management, good governance, and transparency. 

“Independent oversight of public financial management must be part of the checks and balances existing in systems of government, and it is also essential for maintaining the trust of citizens in government.

“By providing independent and expert opinion on how governments use public resources, Supreme Audit Institutions serve a vital public accountability function.”

In his opening remarks, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said the Supreme Audit Associations across the Pacific ensures accountability for how public money is used and holds government agencies accountable for their financial performance.

“They also help those same agencies achieve better results and outcomes in the areas that matter for Pacific people,” Brown said.

“In this way, our Pacific SAIs build trust and support amongst our Pacific people.”

As a member of PASAI, Brown said the Cook Islands Audit Office is here for the benefit of Cook Islanders. 

Referring to the values of accountability and transparency, he explained that the two concepts lie at the heart of what Supreme Audit Institutions are all about, ensuring that the public sector is held to account and in doing so establishing a relationship of trust between government agencies and the people they serve.

Brown adds audit independence is crucial to ensuring that each Supreme Audit Institution and the work that they do is credible and trusted. 

“… the work of the Auditor General should give both Parliament and the public an independent assurance that public entities are presenting a true and honest account of their operations and their performance.”


Desmond Wildin, director of the Cook Islands Audit Office, takes over as chair of PASAI from Satrunino Tewid of Palau. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/24052008

Desmond Wildin, director of the Cook Islands Audit Office, took over as chair of PASAI from Palau at the congress yesterday.

Wildin said it was an honour and privilege to have been handed the chairmanship, adding he intends to maximise the opportunity for the team and Cook Islands.

The theme for this year’s congress is “Strengthening performance – making a difference in the lives of Pacific people”.

The congress which ends on Friday will also adopt a new strategy for the 2024-2034 period.

PASAI is one of the regional organisations belonging to the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).