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Programme, Independence of the Court of Auditors, SIGMA, Tunis 12 July 2016

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Programme of the seminar organised by SIGMA for the Tunisian Court of Accounts on the theme of the financial and administrative independence of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI), held in Tunis on 12 July 2016.

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Programme, Independence of the Court of Auditors, SIGMA, Tunis 12 July 2016

  1. 1. 2 Rue André Pascal 75775 Paris Cedex 16 France mailto:sigmaweb@oecd.org Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 24 82 00 Fax: +33 (0) 1 45 24 13 05 www.sigmaweb.org This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. It should not be reported as representing the official views of the EU, the OECD or its member countries, or of beneficiaries participating in the SIGMA Programme. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the authors. This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. SEMINAR THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE COURT OF AUDITORS IS A PRECONDITION FOR ITS EFFECTIVENESS PROGRAM July 12th , 2016 Tunis
  2. 2. 2 Context Article 117 in the new Tunisian constitution of January 17th , 2014 stipulates: The financial judiciary is composed of the Court of Auditors and its various bodies. The Court of Auditors shall have jurisdiction to supervise the sound spending of public funds in accordance with the principles of legality, efficiency and transparency. It shall decide on the accounts of public accountants and evaluates the expenditure of public funds and punishes any mismanagement in that regard. The court of Auditors shall assist the legislature and the executive in supervising the implementation of financial laws and settlement of the budget. The Court of Auditors shall prepare a general annual report to be submitted to the President of the Republic, the speaker of the house, the Prime Minister and the President of the Supreme Judicial Council. The report shall be published. The Court of Auditors shall, when necessary, prepare special reports that may be published. A law shall regulate the organization, mandate and procedures of the Court of Auditors as well as the statute of its judges. The Court has prepared a draft law it wishes to discuss with its external partners. The Court asked SIGMA to facilitate this discussion by organizing an exchange of experiences with member countries of the European Union. A pivotal issue regarding the new Statute of the Court of Auditors is, in particular, the financial and administrative independence of the Court. The International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) states, in the Declaration of Lima1 on guidelines for controlling public finances by Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI), that SAIs can only accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively if they are independent from the audited entity and if they are protected from outside influence. Although state institutions cannot be absolutely independent from the state, since they are part of it, SAIs should enjoy the functional and organizational independence required to accomplish their tasks. The SAI independence is inextricably linked to that of its members. The members are persons who have to make decisions on behalf of the Supreme Public Finances Audit Institution and must, by their own responsibility, to account for these decisions to third parties. The declaration of LIMA also explains financial independence of SAIs. Thus, SAIs should be provided with the financial means to enable them to accomplish their mission. If necessary, the SAI must be able to apply directly to the responsible public body of the national budget for acquiring financial resources they need. SAIs should be empowered to use, as they wish to, the funds allocated to them in a separate budget item. The Declaration of Mexico2 , which is the norm establishing the preconditions for the functioning of SAIs, talks about the financial and management / administrative autonomy and access to suitable human, material and financial resources in more detail: SAIs should have available necessary and reasonable human, material, and monetary resources—the Executive should not control or direct the access to these resources. SAIs manage their own budget and allocate it appropriately. The Legislature or one of its commissions is responsible for ensuring 1 http://www.issai.org/media/12901/issai_1_e.pdf 2 http://www.issai.org/media/12922/issai_10_e.pdf
  3. 3. 3 that SAIs have the proper resources to fulfill their mandate. SAIs have the right of direct appeal to the Legislature if the resources provided are insufficient to allow them to fulfill their mandate. Seminar Objective The objective of this seminar is, on the one hand, to present the draft organic law of the Court of Auditors and to open a discussion with external partners of the Court on the main provisions suggested by the draft law. On the other hand, this seminar provides an opportunity to benefit from experiences of some SAIs in European Union (EU) member countries in the implementation of these principles outlined by the international standards of SAIs, particularly in regard to the financial and administrative independence of SAIs. The case of new EU Member States should be introduced, particularly given the fundamental transition process completed before being able to join the European Union. These countries have found some interesting solutions as to the independence of their SAIs in a context where different stakeholders had divergent views on the extent and nature of the independence of the SAI. Format The seminar is organized around Tunisian and European experts presentations to facilitate an exchange of experiences and initiate a debate on the independence of the Court of Auditors in Tunisia. Experts will be asked to limit their presentations to 20 minutes to allow enough time for questions, exchange of opinions and experiences. At the end of the seminar, experts and participants will be invited to exchange concrete ideas on how to strengthen the independence of the Court of Auditors.
  4. 4. 4 Program 08h00 Welcoming and Registration 08h30 Keynote Address : • Mr. Abdellatif KHARRAT, First President of the Court of Auditors • Mrs. Bianca BRÉTÉCHÉ, SIGMA Session I : Creating the legal foundation for an independent and efficient public finances SAI Moderator : Mr. Abdellatif KHARRAT, First President of the Court of Auditors 09h00 Mr. Fadhel MOUSSA, University Professor A reading of the constitutional provisions 09h20 Mr. Nejib GUETARI, President of a chamber in the Court of Auditors The main provisions of the organic law draft for the Court of Auditors 09h40 Developing a legal framework for an independent and efficient Court of Auditors Mrs. Maria Da Conceição DE OLIVEIRA LOPES, Consultant in the Court of Auditors, Portugal The most important fields for ensuring the ability of the Court of Auditors’ new legal framework to guarantee the court’s independent and efficient functioning in order to contribute to the good management of the public finances in Tunisia. 10h00 Debate 10h30 Coffee Break
  5. 5. 5 Session II : The importance of the Court of Auditors independence Moderator :Mr. Chawki TABIB, President of the National Commission for Combating Corruption 11h00 Role of Parliament in protecting the financial and administrative independence of the SAI Mr. Wojciech KUTYŁA, Vice-President of the Supreme Public Finances Audit Institution in Poland The Organic Law for the Polish budget sets the budget process for independent institutions differently from other institutions. Thus, independent institutions, such as SAIs, present their annual budget requests to the Ministry of Finance, which cannot on its side change it, but must forward it to the Parliament where it will be discussed for the first time. 11h20 Panel discussions between European and Tunisian experts on: The necessary conditions for ensuring the independence of the Tunisian Court of Auditors Panelists : • Mr. Chawki TABIB, President of the National Commission for Combating Corruption • Mr. Noureddine ZAOUALI, vice president of the Court of Auditors • Mr. Fadhel MOUSSA, University Professor • Mrs. Maria Da Conceição DE OLIVEIRA LOPES, Consultant in the Court of Auditors, Portugal • Mr. Wojciech KUTYŁA, Vice-President of the Supreme Public Finances Audit Institution in Poland • Mr. Zouhair ATALLAH, President of the General Committee for Budgeting, Tunisian Ministry of Finance Following the discussions of the day, what are the key points that could help in ensuring and protecting the independence of the Tunisian Court of Auditors so that it can exercise its constitutional powers effectively? 12h00 Debate 12h30 Closing Remarks : • Mr. Abdellatif KHARRAT, First President of the Court of Auditors • Mrs. Bianca BRÉTÉCHÉ, SIGMA 12h45 End of Seminar 13h00 Work lunch to continue discussions

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