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Auditing the Auditor Places Internal Audit Above Board

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Photo: By Timisu on Pixabay

By Stephen Were, CIA

The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement – Helmut Schmidt

Internal auditors primarily aim is to improve governance by critiquing the work of others (audit clients) within the organizations they serve. Audit work involve among others evaluating those clients’ performance and processes to assess their adequacy in adding value, and in supporting the achievement of missions and goals.

The internal auditors expect their clients to never be afraid of critique, and to embrace the audit process in the interest of continuous improvement. That requires cooperation, positively accommodating internal audit observations, and implementing the auditors’ recommendations to address control weaknesses.

If Internal audit is about improving organizations, and internal auditors are part of organizations, isn’t it appropriate that internal auditors also be subjected to audits for the purposes of improving the internal audits’ own operations and (the auditors’) performance?

You will agree, the sound answer is YES. Similar to the way in which internal audit provides independent assurance, Chief Audit Executives (CAEs) should also receive impartial reviews of the quality of their operations, and their performance. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Attribute Standard 1300 – Quality Assurance and Improvement Program require CAEs to develop and maintain quality assurance and improvement programs (QAIPs) that cover all aspects of the internal audit activity. A QAIP incorporates an external assessment that need to be conducted at least once every five years by qualified, independent assessors or assessment teams from outside organizations. External assessments are designed to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of internal audit functions, their conformance with professional standards, and to identify opportunities for improvement (Standard 1312 – External Assessments).

From the above, it is clear that as per IIA guidelines, there is a requirement for internal auditors to be audited. The quality assurance reviews done in line with the IIA Standard 1312 give reasonable assurance that the internal audit activity and each member of their staff conform to all mandatory elements of the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF). An internal audit activity that can demonstrate conformance to the IPPF is perceived as professional, and enjoys credibility with its stakeholders. Credibility is a critical asset to the internal audit activity.

However, studies undertaken by the IIA at a global level, as well as national institutes, have found that a large number of internal audit functions fail to undertake periodic external assessments as required by the Standard 1312. Of note however, mere conformance to the IPPF should not be the primary driver of internal audit quality assessments. The main aim should be the achievement of audit quality, which ultimately enhances performance, and increases the value of the organization.

To start with, it would serve internal auditors well if in their behavior, they mirror what they expect of their audit clients’, that is, to not be afraid of critique. Good internal auditors will understand that an independent person might identify issues that they may have overlooked, or remind them of processes that could be undertaken more efficiently and offer useful insights for improvement of internal audit operations and performance, the same way they expect their clients to have similar understanding.

Of note is that, the IIA Standards require the communication of results of quality assessments to senior management and the Board. By embracing regular external assessments, internal auditors also demonstrate that they are accountable, that they themselves are not afraid of audits, they are walking the talk of “no blind spots” and answering the question of “who audits the auditor?”. It also demonstrates that internal auditors too appreciate the knowledge external professionals can bring to the internal auditors’ processes. This can result in better acceptance of internal audit by corporate management.

While quality reviews may not necessarily make it easier for internal auditors when it comes to having their own activities being reviewed, internal auditors should at least gain insight into how their clients normally feel during audits. Such experiences can make internal auditors more empathic collaborators with the areas of the organization they regularly audit.

It is not uncommon for most internal audit services to articulate their shared valued in their strategy documents, key among them; accountability, transparency, commitment to the pursuit of excellence, professionalism, and collaborative relationships with stakeholders. Putting in place sustainable quality assurance programmes that incorporate regular external assessments go a long way in translating such value statements into concrete actions.

In any case, internal auditors can only expect to improve the organizations they serve when their audit work is of the highest quality. Realization of quality based on stakeholder expectations can be possible only when internal auditors remain open to constructive challenge that they rightfully expect of their audit clients.

So, internal auditors should rise up to the challenge and be open to regular audits. Stakeholders interested continued success of their organizations should also demand regular audits of the internal audit activity.

Adapted from: Internal Audit Quality – Developing a Quality Assurance and Improvement Programme – Sally-Anne Pitt

Stephen Were, CIA, is an Internal Auditor. He may be reached on swere36@gmail.com

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Please pay your pending bills, KEMSA Board appeals to County Governments

The KEMSA Board also held a roundtable meeting with officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) Kenya Dental Association and the Kenya Health Care Federation (KHF).

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Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) board has issued a passionate appeal asking several county governments to prioritise settlement of more than Kshs 3.9 Billion pending bills to the Authority.

Speaking when she addressed stakeholders in the Pharmaceutical sector and Medical Associations, KEMSA Chairperson Mary Mwadime said the settlement of the bills would help accelerate reforms at the Authority.

She said some county governments had extended much-needed support to KEMSA by prioritising the settlement of bills to keep the Authority’s cogwheels running as the organisational reforms to address systemic challenges progress.

She said the Board would undertake the reforms in strict compliance to due process and labour laws as the Board is committed to remedying challenges’ currently bedevilling the Authority.

During the latest round of engagements on Monday, the KEMSA Board and the Authority’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Edward Njoroge updated the Senate Committee on Health members led by Senator Michael Mbito. The KEMSA Board also held a roundtable meeting with officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) Kenya Dental Association and the Kenya Health Care Federation (KHF).

Last week, the KEMSA Board paid courtesy calls to the Kisumu, Kisii, Nyamira and Uasin Gishu County Governments. The Board also engaged the National Assembly Committee on Health and the Development Partners for Health in Kenya (DPH-K). The DPH-K comprises stakeholders and representatives from the World Health Organisation, Global Fund, USAID, CDC, UNAIDS, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and World Bank.

At the meetings, Ms Mwadime reiterated that the Authority was complying with a court order and had not declared any roles redundant nor handed over KEMSA’s leadership to external agencies. She added that operations at the Authority are proceeding under a business-as-usual model with a business continuity plan to avoid any disruptions.

“We have assured our stakeholders that our operations are proceeding on as usual and the Board and Core Management remain firmly in place,” She said, adding that, “A dysfunctional KEMSA slows down healthcare delivery goals and is a liability to the envisaged positive national healthcare outcomes and the Board is committed to facilitating reforms to set the Authority on a recovery path. This will include structured engagements with several county governments to settle their outstanding bills amounting to more than Kshs 6 Billion,” she said.

KMPDU Secretary-General Dr Davji Bhimji speaking after the KEMSA engagement, expressed optimism that the Authority will undertake the envisaged reforms lawfully.

He said the Board had assured stakeholders and KPMDU members that due process would be followed and staff members will not be victimised.

“We have been given detailed information on the reforms and have been assured that the role of professional stakeholders in the healthcare value chain will be mainstreamed in the reform agenda. We are ready to engage with KEMSA to ensure efficient supply of drugs and other items from KEMSA stores to health facilities,” Dr Bhimji said.

Last week, KEMSA Board confirmed that operations had been sustained through the core management and staffing team. If necessary, the core KEMSA Management Team will be assisted by a multi-agency team drawn from public sector experts.

The multi-agency officers will be drawn from the Public Service Commission, State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs, Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Youth Affairs, Ministry of Defence, The National Treasury and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government among others.

The reforms at the Authority are part of the far-reaching recommendations outlined in several KEMSA restructuring reports, including the latest KEMSA Immediate Action Plan and Medium Term Reforms Working Committee (KIAPRWC) report. Commissioned by the Board, the KIAPRWC report revealed challenges in critical functions.

The report confirms that KEMSA is grossly underperforming and largely unable to meet clients’ urgent needs, particularly the delivery of essential Medicines and Products to the Counties, Referral Hospitals and Programs.

The Authority is suffering from below-par productivity, with the order fill rate standing at 18% against a target performance of over 90%. KEMSA’s order turn-around time is an average of 46 days.

KEMSA is also suffering from a developing debtor and creditor crisis and is currently owed Ksh. 6.4 Billion by its clients, who are primarily county governments. The Authority owes its creditors Ksh. 4.5 Billion and is operating at 170% above its approved staff establishment of three hundred and forty-one (341) with an estimated staff complement of 922. Pool

The Board, Ms Mwadime said, is committed to facilitating the necessary reforms to ensure that KEMSA challenges are sufficiently addressed. This commitment includes aligning the organisational structure to industry-accepted standards for a health commodities and technologies procurement organisation. It also calls for the introduction of global best practices, including transparent reporting relationships, an acceptable span of control, and command structures, compounding related functions for strengthened accountability and a re-determination of optimal staffing levels and norms.

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Mwananchi Credit Feted as a TopScore brand

The company was voted as the Most Timely Logbook Loan Provider in Kenya as well as recognized as a TopScore Brand in recognition of the financier’s increasing penetration in the country.

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TopScore Brands awards the certificate Mwananchi’s Head of Customer Service , Ruth Moraa and trophy to HR Manager Collins Okello (Photo: Courtesy)

Mwananchi Credit has been recognized as a TopScore brand during the inaugural gala dinner held at the Hilton Hotel last Friday.

The company was voted as the Most Timely Logbook Loan Provider in Kenya as well as recognized as a TopScore Brand in recognition of the financier’s increasing penetration in the country.

 

The company has had an impressive winning streak this year, landing the Best Land Title based Financier at the 4th Annual Real Estate Excellence Awards as well as the Best Logbook Loan Financer during the Annual Automotive Industry Awards, both held recently.

Commenting after the win, Mwananchi Credit CEO Dennis Mombo was philosophical about it “It is not until you are on top of your game that you begin being recognized. However, as I remind my team every day, getting to the top is the easy part. It is staying on there, that calls for a big challenge. The biggest show of a winning spirit is to fight complacency so that you keep emerging the best in subsequent years. We are excited about being recognized as a Topscore Brand alongside Kenya’s other leading brands. But we are more excited about giving the best service to our clients, who are the reason we are on top!”

Mwananchi Credit is one of the most innovative lenders in the market. They have ensured that they are able to meet borrowers’ needs at various collateral levels while easing the process of access to credit.

By providing Emergency Loans, the company has put in place aggressive customer-centric processes to ensure that the timelines between application and disbursement are narrowed to an absolute minimum. This has been enabled by embracing technology such that the KYC process starts immediately upon online application and the subsequent steps are also automated whenever possible. Logbook Loans are provided within less than six hours of application with a disbursement within this Turn Around Time clocking over 98% of the instances.

Mwananchi Credit is one of the leading logbook loan providers in the country. Its diversified product portfolio includes title deed loans, civil servant salary check-off loans, import financing, and asset financing among others.

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Mwananchi ‘s interest holiday for new applicants to mark Customer Service week

Mwananchi Credit is one of the few Micro Finance companies that has managed to grow tremendously during the last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic and this has been strongly linked to improvement of their customer service desk.

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Clients at Mwananchi Credit tent in a past reach out exercise.

Mwananchi Credit will this year mark the Customer Service Week due on Monday 4th till Friday 8th October, in style.

The firm has announced a gracious interest holiday to all lucky clients who make loan applications in specific class categories for the first 3 months of repayment.

This means if you make your loan application during the Customer Service week, and you are among the lucky chosen clients, your interest repayments shall click in January 2022 with only the principal reflecting in the intervening period.

Further, Mwananchi Credit has also announced a penalty waiver for all customers who come to regularize their loan accounts ( that may have fallen behind) during this week.

Announcing the goodies, Mwananchi Credit’s Marketing Manager Boniface Ndonji added,
“ Our growth over the last couple of years has been phenomenal and in big part, this has been simply due to our loyal clients.”

He noted, “As we seek to grow our Mwananchi client family, we also seek to give them have a soft landing, hence our reason to give incentives of our interest holiday.”

Further, Mr Boniface Ndonji said for their current clients who may be facing repayment difficulties, the penalty waivers will hopefully help them to get up to speed.

Mwananchi Credit is one of the few Micro Finance companies that has managed to grow tremendously during the last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic and this has been strongly linked to improvement of their customer service desk.

As they mark this year’s occasion, the company shall have a lot of other exciting range of activities to celebrate their growth with their customers.

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