The meeting of Auditors General was called by the Secretariat to review and approve the COBEA audit charter. The Charter is to guide the two parties, i.e. the Secretariat and the COBEA on their respective rights and obligations when undertaking external audits of COMESA. The development of the Charter is an important step in the advancement of the road map approved in March 2018 by the Auditors General to give effect to the Council of Ministers decision to change the existing external auditing arrangements in that the audits were undertaken by private auditors up to 2016.

The COBEA become operational and undertook the audit of COMESA financial statements for 2017 in 2018. The resultant audit report was qualified and the management letter revealed a number of control weaknesses and irregularities. The management did find faults with the audit process and declined to accept the report in saying that it was given time to respond to audit queries nor was a draft report produced prior to issuing the final report.  Due to the nature of serious disagreements between COBEA and the Secretariat, a select committee was appointed by the Council to look into the matter and the Committee issued a report in October 2018 following deliberations. Despite the select committee recommendation to adopt the audit report on 2017 financial statements, the Secretariat caused the Council of Ministers in April 2019 to adopt it as an internal document instead.

Consequently, the financial statements of COMESA for 2017 has not received an audit opinion and this has become a potential political issue. The situation still persists.

In this backdrop, the meeting of Auditors General (October 2019) was, therefore, primarily to develop and approve the COBEA audit Charter to be used as a framework for future audits of COMESA by COBEA.

The Charter can be found on the OAG website; Reports, Downloads, Strategic Documents.

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