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National Audit Authority to benefit from British experts

Independent auditors of govt accounts receive technical assistance amid a bid to develop the Kingdom’s accounting acumen and enforce a national standard

THE independent body tasked with auditing government accounts and drawing up an accounting standard for the private sector has recently benefitted from technical assistance provided by its United Kingdom counterpart, it said.

Uth Chhorn, chairman of the National Audit Authority (NAA), told the Post Tuesday that the purpose of the help given by the UK's National Audit Office (NAO) was to improve the NAA's ability to fulfil this dual mandate.

"We worked with the NAO to improve both our internal capacity and those regulations that will be incorporated in a national accounting standard, particularly that used for [small and medium-sized enterprises]," he said.

The forthcoming stock exchange makes it imperative that firms are able to produce transparent financial statements for investors and the general public, said Uth Chhorn.

"[The NAA] is trying to learn how [the NAO] does things so we can use key points and regulations to improve our capacity," he said. "But we can't follow them 100 percent ... we are different countries with different cultures and laws."

Uth Chhorn said the NAA follows the UN's international standard - known as INTOSAI - which is used by supreme audit institutions such as the NAO in auditing government spending, operations and monitoring.

Heng Vanda, director of Vanda Accounting and Auditing Company, said most companies in Cambodia do not use accounting standards to produce financial statements because they want to avoid tax.

A survey released in April by the International Finance Corporation - part of the World Bank - found that 96 percent of Cambodian businesses are micro-enterprises.

Heng Vanda added that an even bigger problem is the overlapping checks done by the NAA and the Ministry of Economy and Finance in assessing the financial performance of government departments. In other countries, such an auditing role is performed solely by the auditing authority.

"I don't know what kind of system our country uses right now," Heng Vanda said. "But if we can get some help from a rich country like the UK, then things will change because we will be able to draft our own auditing rules."

Uth Chhorn said that the priority is to improve the capacity of officials to understand and implement the rules.

"At this stage we shouldn't worry too much about building our own accounting standard - we should instead build capacity and accountability," he said.

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