The activities of the National Audit Office are financed from the state budget that is approved by the Parliament for each year. Following budget cuts it is EEK 58.1 million in 2010, which is an extremely small portion of the state budget.
Although by status the National Audit Office is one of the seven constitutional institutions (the Riigikogu, President, Chancellor of Justice, Supreme Court, etc.) and based on its characteristics the maximum independence of the National Audit Office should be ensured in all respects, it is not the case financially. The problem lies in the fact that considering legislation as well as, above all, the Estonian political culture, the Estonian National Audit Office is still strongly influenced by the Executive, i.e. the Government (more specifically, by the Ministry of Finance).
Currently, the National Audit Office submits its budgetary requests to the Ministry of Finance and the latter determines the budget limits as well as the ultimate budget. It virtually means that the Ministry of Finance who is audited by the National Audit Office decides in reality over how and to what an extent to finance the one who audits it.
In two reports (1999 and 2005) experts of SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) operating under a joint initiative of the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have raised the issue of whether the National Audit Office should have the right to submit its draft budget directly to the Riigikogu or the present solution where it takes place via the Ministry of Finance is sufficient. According to experts, it is universally understood that the right to address the Parliament direct is from the point of view of independence always a stronger and better solution than addressing the Ministry of Finance.
For instance, in the United Kingdom the National Audit Office (NAO) reports to the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament (not the Parliament’s Finance Committee, but to a committee that comprises representatives of all political parties of the Parliament) who examines the budget of the NAO and appoints an external auditor of the NAO’s annual reports.
Experts have found that financial independence is very important for the Estonian National Audit Office and the latter should obtain greater financial independence. Therefore the National Audit Office has made a proposal to change the existing system in such a manner that the Riigikogu would attend directly to its budgetary issues in order to prevent any violation of the financial independence of the National Audit Office and interference of the Executive.
12/14/2009 12:05 PM
3/8/2013 10:15 AM
3/8/2013 10:15 AM