The State Audit Office of Viet Nam contributes initiatives and takes concrete actions to implement the Hanoi Declaration

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(BKTO) – In the afternoon of July 7, 2020, the virtual 55th Governing Board Meeting of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institution (ASOSAI) was successfully organized under the chairmanship of the State Audit Office of Viet Nam – the ASOSAI Chair for 2018-2021. Taking this opportunity, the Auditor General of Viet Nam, Dr Ho Duc Phoc shared with the press the outstanding achievements of the Meetings, the initiatives and takes concrete actions to implement the Hanoi Declaration. The Audit News would like to introduce this conversation.
The Auditor General, Dr Ho Duc Phoc answers the interview of the press agents in the sideline of the Meeting

♦ Excellency Mr Auditor General, in capacity as the ASOSAI Chairman for 2018-2021, would you please inform us the results achieved in the recent 55th ASOSAI Governing Board Meeting?

With the constructive and serious working spirit, under the chairmanship of the SAV, the 55thASOSAI Governing Board Meeting was held successfully, completing the whole 24 agenda items.

Especially, in the Meeting, the member SAIs focused on discussing many new issues, including the establishment of the ASOSAI Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is one of the pioneering decisions of ASOSAI, one of 7 INTOSAI regional organizations to implement INTOSAI strategic objectives of sustainable development. 
Besides, there were many other topics having been discussed and reached agreement on in the Meeting: environmental auditing for sustainable development stated in the Hanoi Declaration 2018, auditing the water issues in Mekong River Basin traversing through 6 countries, auditing the public assets procurement, auditing the environmental issues, auditing the information technology, etc.

The Governing Board also agreed on the time, method and content of the 15th ASOSAI Assembly and the 56th, 57th ASOSAI Governing Board Meetings in Thailand. 
In the framework of the Meeting, the member SAIs discussed and shared initiatives, approaches that ASOSAI used to help them to timely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on these, the Governing Board proposed the establishment of a working group to study newly emerging issues related to pandemic, especially the ongoing COVID-19.
The Meeting viewed from the SAV Office

♦ Hanoi Declaration can be considered the lodestar for ASOSAI operation in the time to come, especially during the SAV’s chairmanship tenure 2018-2021. Up to now, after 2 years of assuming the role, what initiatives and actions the SAV have proposed and taken respectively to realize the Hanoi Declaration?

After nearly two years of the ASOSAI chairmanship during the tenure of 2018-2021, the SAV has performed well its leading role toward 47 member SAIs, especially the 12 Governing Board members.

The theme environmental auditing for sustainable development of Hanoi Declaration 2018 was promoted by the SAV for implementation. Going along with Asian SAIs, the SAV has conducted environmental audits, notably to be named as audit of waste, audit of plastic bags, audit of industrial zones. Particularly, the SAV has proposed ASOSAI Governing Board to approve an ASOSAI cooperative audit within ASEAN region for 2020-2021 with topic of “auditing the water management of Mekong River Basin in line with the sustainable development goals”. This initiative aimed at providing opinions and recommendations to the Governments of the Mekong River Countries on the water management, ensuring living sustainability and social-economic development for hundreds of millions of local people there.

♦ May you, Excellency Mr Auditor General please provide more information on the objectives and meanings of this audit?

Currently, the world and region keep facing up huge challenges on climate change, rising sea levels, less rainfall, increased heat, etc plus other issues that countries in the Basin of Mekong River have had no plan for management thereon. 
Mekong River is one of 12 biggest rivers in the world with the length of nearly 5.000 km flowing through 6 countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. Viet Nam, lying in the downstream of the River, is affected by the River water management in terms of living conditions as well as the socio-economic development. For example, the increase in constructing the hydropower plants in the upstream areas to exploit water in the tributaries and mainstream of Mekong River was one of the basic cause of changing flow. This affects negatively to the citizen’s life and the socio-economic development of the related countries, including Viet Nam. 
Thus, after getting opinions of the Party and State Leaders, the competent authorities, the SAV proposed ASOSAI members, particularly the Governing Board members to support for and resolve the cooperative audit of the water management in Mekong River Basin. When tabling this idea, the SAV was supported by SAI Myanmar and Thailand. According to the ASOSAI rules and regulation, if an issue is supported by at least 2 SAIs, it will be set to a wider discussion and vote. In this Meeting, after discussion, 12 Governing Board Member SAIs and 2 other SAIs outside ASOSAI supported and expressed their agreement to approve the implementation of this audit. We hope that with the leadership of the SAV, the SAV shall gain considerable success, contributing to the water protection for in Mekong River and sustainable development of the countries in the Mekong River Basin.

♦ As far as we concerned, in the period of 2012-2013, the SAV has participated in a parallel audit on the water issues in the Mekong River Basin with 4 other ASEAN member SAIs. May you, Mr Auditor General, share the findings and noteworthy recommendations of this audit? And which impacts that the cooperative audit in the period of 2020-2021 will be exerted and what benefits it brings to the related countries? 
In the period of 2012-2013, within ASOSAI cooperation, for the first time, the SAV in cooperation with 4 other SAIs: Thailand (Leading SAI), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar conducted successfully the parallel audit of water issues in Mekong River Basin. The audit result showed the deficiencies and shortcomings in management of Mekong River water such as: countries in the Mekong River Basin had not taken any common efforts to manage the water flow, especially the construction of hydropower plants in the tributaries of the River, resulting in negative effect to the water flow and the sustainable development of the countries, etc. That audit was approved. However, the impact of the audit has not been maximized due to the audit scope and methodology. Then, its recommendations to the respective Governments have not been conducted effectively.
We do hope that, the new cooperative audit shall provide sustainable and appropriate analysis, assessment and solutions, contributing to the resolution of the current issues in the Mekong River, supporting for rising awareness in and responsibility for effective exploitation and management of water resources, decreasing the negative impacts to the living environment and social security for local people there.

In preparation for the audit, the SAV will organize a workshop in the end of 2020 and work closely with 04 SAIs to conduct the audit in 2021. In the end of 2021, we expect to complete the audit and hold an international workshop to share audit experience and recommendations on water management in Mekong River. It is to support the Governments of the countries the River flow through to best and most sustainably conduct the water management, to ensure the sustainable development of the respective countries.

♦ Thank you, Excellency, Mr Auditor General!./.

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