The INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee initiated and conducted the webinar on the Accounting Chamber’s activity amid war. About 100 representatives of the world’s Supreme Audit Institutions attended the event (except for the aggressor countries: the Russian Federation and Belarus).
The Auditor General of Sweden Helena Lindberg when opening the webinar noted that she had been closely following the news from Ukraine since the first day of the full-scale invasion and could not believe that the war had returned to Europe. She emphasized the importance of understanding the causes and consequences of these events for the whole world.
The Acting Chairman of the Accounting Chamber Andrii Maisner in his introductory speech thanked the international partners − representatives of the world’s SAIs, who expressed their unprecedented professional and human support to the institution at the beginning of Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine. “We are honored to work with you in united international audit community”, he said.
Recalling the first weeks of the full-scale invasion, Andrii Maisner noted that the Accounting Chamber’s team had to respond quickly to challenges and convert activity to military rails. “For the first few days the Russian Federation’s troops besieged the capital, and tank battles were taking place in some areas. Civilian cars were smashed by Russian tanks. We barely had time to evacuate our families”, he told. – “Because of the shelling of Kyiv, we held an emergency meeting of the institution in the bomb shelter and nominated the operational staff to address the tasks and fulfil powers set out by the Constitution of Ukraine and legislation. The main priorities, of course, were the safety of our colleagues and the continuation of the Accounting Chamber’s activities.”
According to him, in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion, the evacuation of employees of the Accounting Chamber and their families from the hottest spots to the west of the country was began. “We have created a group chat for all employees of the Accounting Chamber and put in place a daily roll call. In cooperation with military administrations and emergency responders, they tried to find those colleagues who were caught by the war in the hottest spots of hostilities and who stopped getting in touch,” he added.
The Acting Chairman of the Accounting Chamber emphasized that the work of the institution did not stop, employees were immediately switched to remote mode. “If you are not at the front line, then in your profession you should do more than the maximum to contribute to a great victory. We had to refuse from the on-site auditing at the auditees for a certain time, because we did not understand where the attack of Russian troops was taking place that day. Although we continued our work by conducting other types of audit activities, in particular, examination, analysis, i.e. we implemented those things that could be done in such conditions and under such circumstances. It was significant that the auditees, which we audit, did not dismissed us, because they understood that the process should not be stopped. The institution in the state shall ensure accountability and efficiency of spending funds amid war,” he emphasized.
When answering a question of the participants of the event how many employees of the Accounting Chamber are currently fighting at the front line, Andrii Maisner answered that 14 employees of the institution who went to the front line as volunteers fend off the aggressor in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Among them is the mother of two kids. He also honored the memory of our deceased colleague − Yurii Storozhev, who was killed by mortar shelling during combat duty near Kreminna City in Luhansk oblast.
In addition, Andrii Maisner said that a key part of the Accounting Chamber’s activity was the reorientation to important areas, such as psychological rehabilitation and social readaptation of Ukrainian defenders who return to the rear in a conditionally peaceful part of the country due to wounds and injuries or for other reasons. The mental health of soldiers has become one of the most important topics for auditors.
According to him, the Accounting Chamber is actively improving its work. In particular, an important step was the final implementation of international standards and methodologies, which contributes to increasing the quality and accountability of funds management.
Andrii Maisner named the priority for the Accounting Chamber’s activity after the war such as conducting control measures regarding methods, processes and activities for assessing the damages caused by the war, for their use in international courts, obtaining reparations and calculating funds for the restoration of the state.
“Our American and British colleagues are ready to work with us in practical synergy on another priority − the restoration of Ukraine's infrastructure. Huge funds come from abroad to Ukraine. And we as the Accounting Chamber understand this. Therefore, I avail myself of this opportunity to invite all of you, dear colleagues, to cooperate. You know that your governments, taxpayers, as well as you, help us financially; we have a common interest in ensuring transparency, accountability and efficiency in the use of this assistance. Therefore, let me invite you to cooperate. This is a key project under reconstruction of Ukraine − to investigate precisely those flows of funds that are allocated to the important for Ukraine mission − to survive, win and develop together,” he highlighted.
The participants of the event wished Ukraine the fastest victory and expressed their admiration for the team of the Accounting Chamber, which demonstrates high professionalism and efficiency in this extremely difficult period.