Serbia’s State Audit Institution Identifies Environmental Protection and Internal Controls in Need of Increased Government Attention
January 15, 2021
On January 12, the State Audit Institution (SAI) revealed the results of two of its 2020 performance audits revealing the need for the Government to increase its attention to address environmental protection concerns and internal control deficiencies in central level institutions in Serbia.
SAI’s recent performance audit in the environmental protection sector concluded that improvements in separation of municipal waste collections and extension of producer responsibilities are needed to increase effectiveness of plastic waste management. SAI’s concluded that entities responsible for packaging waste management system have not established adequate coordination mechanisms for producers, LSGs and the Ministry for Environmental Protection. Packaging producers also do not sufficiently invest in a separate system of packaging waste collection, which results in low recycling rate of municipal packaging waste. SAI concluded that the Ministry for Environmental Protection has failed to inspect the work of companies for management of packaging waste and there are no accurate and reliable records on the production and management of municipal waste, which may lead to unjustifiable strategic decisions when selecting waste management methods. SAI recommended that the Ministry for Environmental Protection establish a more efficient system to implement producer responsibilities, oversight operators of packaging waste management , establish separate plastic waste collection strategies and include informal waste collectors in waste management. SAI also recommended that the Agency for Environmental Protection oversee the data received on municipal waste produced.
SAI also conducted a performance audit to address a possible contributing factor to its recurring findings of irregularities, miscalculations in ministries’ financial statements and the potential missed opportunities to achieve ministries’ objectives. In 2019, SAI reported 437,09 billion dinars in miscalculations in financial statements. Properly established internal controls systems can prevent potential errors, fraud and abuse in operation and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent in a lawful, economical, efficient and effective manner. SAI concluded that there is risk that internal audit activities do not sufficiently contribute to the improvement of operations and achievement of operational objectives in ministries. The audit institution reported that internal auditors in ministries do not follow-up on their recommendations to management to determine if they have been implemented, except when occasional follow-up audits are performed. SAI recommends that the Government intensify activities to develop and enhance the system of financial management controls, as well as ensuring the establishment or enhancement of internal audit functions to better achieve ministries’ objectives. USAID Government Accountability Initiative supports strengthening SAI’s capacity to conduct risk-based selection of performance audits aligned with SAI’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan.
Beside media representatives and CSOs participating Conference via Zoom platform, more than 70 representatives of CSOs, the media, and other external stakeholders participated in the conference broadcast via UNS Press Center of the Journalists’ Association of Serbia You Tube Channel. The State Audit Institution will hold press conferences every Tuesday between January 19 and February 9, at noon, online at UNS Press Centre, by order published on SAI webpage http://www.dri.rs/mediji/Konferencije-za-novinare—Predstavljanje-izvestaja-o-reviziji-svrsishodnosti-poslovanja.n-534.107.html