Policy Forum held a meeting with performance auditors of the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) on the 13th of July as part of their audit planning to identify possible areas to focus future audits. Of particular focus in their detailed discussions with Policy Forum was the theme of resource mobilisation including both non-tax and tax revenues.
PF explained why the focus on both non-tax and tax revenues should be a priority in NAOT’s Performance Audit Strategy. This includes its importance in the country’s development agenda such as the need to graduate from aid by enhancing domestic resource mobilisation capabilities and having predictable sources of revenue, reducing harmful tax exemptions that create loss of revenues badly needed for service delivery, making revenues from the extractive industries work for the people of Tanzania and addressing inequality through the reduction of regressive tax policies that hurt the most disadvantaged.
In outlining challenges related to issues of raising non-tax and tax revenues in Tanzania, PF mentioned demoralised local authorities that raise certain revenues from taxes, levies and fees but receive less-than-expected disbursements from the central level, tax incentives granted for the purpose of securing Foreign Direct Investment but not informed by evidence and limited capacity within the tax authorities amongst others.
The NAOT expressed appreciation of the value of this new approach of consulting with CSOs as through PF’s expertise, issues previously left out of their performance audit priorities list have been highlighted and gaps to work on noted. NAOT stated that the information obtained will help them in planning future audits.
The consultation came at a critical stage as the agency moves towards achieving its aspirations to advance public and civic actors’ participation in the audit process so that citizens are able to hold duty-bearers accountable.
Apart from consultations at the audit planning stage, equally important is the audit reporting phase. Audit results detailing how effectively custodians of public resources have executed funds have to be made public including the value of the audit institution’s work in bringing integrity to government.
Much has thus been done by NAOT in this regard and 2016 has seen the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) publish the third consecutive “Citizen Report” popular version of the audit reports for financial year 2013/14 and Policy Forum was invited for the Dar es Salaam launch of the booklet earlier this month. Of particular interest from NAOT was how CSOs use both the published full audit and simplified reports and Policy Forum outlined that the secretariat uses their materials in its Social Accountability Monitoring trainings for civic actors at the subnational level who then use them to press for local authorities to implement audit recommendations. For next year’s launch, they have invited CSOs to make formal presentations on the impact of the reports in their work.
For several years now Policy Forum has been interacting with the National Audit Office of Tanzania to determine ways it can contribute to advancing public participation in the audit process.