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Tribunal de Contas da União

High-level meeting with SAIs Montenegro and Poland reinforces the importance of independent audit institutions

During a meeting held on November 17, the President of TCU and Chair of INTOSAI, Minister Bruno Dantas, advocated for the protection of audit institutions against any form of external influence.
Por Secom TCU


On November 17, the President of the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) and Chair of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), Minister Bruno Dantas, met with high-level officials from Montenegro and Poland to address the importance of preserving the independence of audit institutions. 

The meeting took place in Podgorica, capital of Montenegro. The Vice-President of the Parliament, Zdenka Popović, the Acting President of the Senate of the State Audit Institution (SAI) of Montenegro, Nikola Kovačević, and the President of SAI Poland, Marian Banaś, also attended the meeting. 

In his opening speech, Minister Bruno Dantas emphasized that "SAIs need to be independent from the agencies they audit and must be protected against any form of external influence". According to him, only independent external government auditing — along with professional teams and methodologies — can ensure the impartial, reliable, and objective presentation of audit conclusions. 

Dantas also pointed out that the good relationship between audit institutions and parliaments is extremely important for the proper functioning of a democratic state. "Parliaments represent the interests of the population and supervise the work of the government. SAIs monitor the use of public resources and ensure that they are used appropriately. When these institutions work effectively together, it can increase people's trust in the political system and strengthen democracy", stated the President. 

INTOSAI in defense of independent SAIs 

Independence is fundamental for SAIs to fulfill their mandates effectively and produce consistent results. This ensures that they can properly monitor the use of public funds, a function that contributes to consolidating democracy and reinforcing society's trust. Preserving autonomy is a concern for INTOSAI. Therefore, the organization has established principles of independence in the Declarations of Lima in 1977 and Mexico in 2007. 

The existence of an adequate constitutional and legal framework, a broad mandate and full discretion, independence for the head and members of the SAI, unrestricted access to information, and freedom to decide the content and timing of audit reports are some of the principles advocated by INTOSAI. 

To assist audit institutions in responding to potential threats to independence, the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) created the SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism (SIRAM). SIRAM is the official INTOSAI tool to address threats and breaches to the principle of independence and provide support to SAIs in facing challenges and risks to autonomy. 

The process has four steps: information (IDI is informed of the threat or breach to independence), assessment (IDI carries out an assessment to determine whether the situation is linked to an infringement of one or more of the Mexico Declaration principles), response (IDI implements actions, such as conducting an in-country advocacy visit, issuing a statement of concern, supporting the development of model legislation) and follow-up (IDI monitors how the response is being implemented and verifies if additional measures are needed). 

At the end of 2022, SAI Montenegro activated the SIRAM tool due to political interference related to the work of government oversight. In 2021, the Polish SAI had already requested the use of SIRAM to discuss alleged threats to Poland's constitutional order and audit institution. 

"By addressing local challenges and providing actionable guidance and recommendations, the SIRAM report contributes to the interaction of institutions with governments, parliaments, and other stakeholders. In the end, SAIs can contribute to the rule of law, economic growth, social justice, and equity in a country. That is why independent SAIs are important for society", explained Dantas. 

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