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The INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation has appointed former New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Helen Clark, to advocate for the independence of supreme audit institutions (SAIs).

INTOSAI has seen increasing evidence that the independence of SAIs is diminishing or being threatened around the globe. The creation of the role as goodwill ambassador for SAI independence is an initiative by the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation (IDC) to increase awareness among governments and other stakeholders of the critical need to develop and support SAIs’ independence in every country.

Helen Clark says, “In the current context of constitutional and democratic backsliding, combined with unprecedented emergency spending and economic disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a greater need for SAIs to be able to carry out their jobs without interference.”

Helen Clark states that if governments are to be transparent and accountable as their citizens require them to be, this backsliding trend cannot be ignored.

“Recently the Auditor General of Sierra Leone and her deputy were suspended indefinitely by the President, very shortly before a damning audit report was about to be published. This is not an isolated case, and it’s time the world understood the extent of the problem,” she adds.

The Goodwill Ambassador for SAI Independence will work alongside the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI).

Ms Clark’s comments on the importance of SAI’s independence are supported by Mr. Ed Olowo Okere, Director of the Governance Global Practice in the World Bank and Donor Chair of the IDC, who says, “It is critical for SAIs to be independent in order for them to operate effectively and to have sound public accountability in any country. Truly independent SAIs can help reduce waste and prevent misuse of public funds. This will in turn contribute to channeling savings to programs that fight poverty, a focus of the international development community and core mission of the World Bank Group.”

As a world leader who served three terms as New Zealand’s Prime Minister and eight years as the first female head of the UN Development Program, and as the current Chair of the Global Leadership Foundation, Helen Clark brings vast experience and gravitas to the role of Goodwill Ambassador.

Helen Clark’s appointment as IDC Goodwill Ambassador for SAI Independence is effective from 1 January 2022 for an initial term of three years.