ALSAI attends seminar on “Building Trust - The Role of Supreme Audit Institutions in Ensuring the Reliability of Fiscal Data”

03.12.2019

On November 28-29, 2019, in Helsinki, Finland, was organized a seminar on "Building Trust - The Role of Supreme Audit Institutions in Ensuring the Reliability of Fiscal Data". Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of EU countries, the statistics authorities of Greece and Finland and representatives of the Finland central government came together to discuss the importance of reliable data in managing and monitoring general government finances. The seminar welcomed Ms. TyttiYli-Viikari, Auditor General of Finland, who made a argument that common ways to ensure the reliability of fiscal data should be discussed and found. In a changing world, it is always important to maintain trust in government information and ensure that fiscal data is reliable. Unreliable and incomplete statistics have caused problems in the recent past, during the euro crisis.

According to Ms. TyttiYli-Viikari, Auditor General of Finland, the Supreme Audit Authority must provide reliable information to citizens and people that based on them make dession. The reliability of fiscal data can be ensured, for example, through common guidelines, regulations, monitoring and external auditing.

Participants in the seminar were Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland, who served as European Commissioner during the euro crisis, MarttiHetemäki, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, and MarjoBruun, Director General of Statistics Finland. International speakers include Mariana Kotzeva, General Director of Eurostat, Delphine Moretti, an OECD representative, and Athanasios C. Thanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

The main focus of the seminar was the reliability of fiscal data. Such data include public sector accounting data, as well as statistics and forecasts regarding government finances. In his speech Mr. Matti Okko, Director at the National Audit Office of Finland, highlighted concrete facts about the importance of data reliability. The European economic crisis was a concrete proof of what happens when decisions are made based of unreliable data. It seems that economic statistics were distorted and essential information about liabilities was kept. It is therefore important that authorities provide reliable statistical and forecast data on general government finances and SAIs must ensure the reliability of these data.

In his opening speech, Mr. Martti Hetemäki, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, said “Fiscal sustainability is built on credible authorities, robust data and reasonable fiscal policy rules. However, what is needed besides them is market discipline. Attempts at reliable fiscal data are made at both the international and national levels.

Mr. Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland, who served as European Commissioner during the euro crisis, said in his speech at the seminar that “In recent years, the EU has increased its efforts in guidance and monitoring statistics and fiscal policy adjustment.However, the responsibility for reliable data and consistent decisions have to be made by each Member State"

At the end of each section, the conclusions were presented in graphs, where the main elements of the presentations were presented.

In this seminar, ALSAI was represented by Ms. Helena Solis, auditor in the State Budget Audit Department and Ms. Elisa Metaj, specialist in sector of Statistics.

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