The Chamber of Accounts of the Republic of Azerbaijan hosted the 2019 Annual Meeting of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on Public Debt (WGPD) in 23-25 May. The meeting was attended by fifty three (53) participants from 27 member-SAIs and guest speakers from the World Bank and the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA) University. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was also represented via virtual participation.

Mr. Vugar Gulmammadov, Chairperson of the Chamber of Accounts, warmly welcomed the guests to Baku, Azerbaijan. He noted the significance of cooperation and knowledge sharing in public sector audit among states which is one of the major objectives of the group.

Mr. Michael G. Aguinaldo, Chairperson of the Commission on Audit of the Republic of the Philippines and Chairperson of the INTOSAI WGPD, in his opening address, cited that one of the fundamental roles of the working group is to address the need to strengthen public debt management audit by preparing and publishing specific guidance, best practices, and other informational materials to encourage the proper reporting and sound management of public debt.

Public debt experts from the Chamber of Acocunts, Messrs. Vugar Ibrahimov, Zaur Valiyev, and Elvin Hajiyev jointly talked about debt sustainability, fiscal sustainability indicators, and the audit of internal controls of public debt in their keynote speech.

Mr. Elchin Rashidov, lecturer from the ADA University, in another keynote speech, stressed the important rules in sound public debt management – sustainability, solvency, and liquidity.

Ms. Lea Hakim of the World Bank who was also one of the guest speakers, discoursed about strengthening public debt monitoring using the lessons learnt from the Debt Management Facility (DMF) of the World Bank.

UNCTAD representative, Ms. Stephanie Blankenburg, also delivered a speech via video presentation entitled “Debt transparency initiatives and effective macroeconomic debt strategies for sustainable development.”

Chairperson Aguinaldo, in the annual Chair’s Report, recounted recent accomplishments of the working group. The WGPD Terms of Reference (ToR) was finally approved and adopted in the INTOSAI Governing Board Meeting in November 2018. Project 2.9 or the Guidance on the Audit of Public Debt is now in its exposure stage for 90 days at the ISSAI.org. The SAI of Qatar, the newest member of the WGPD, was warmly welcomed by Chairperson Aguinaldo together with the entire group. WGPD is now 35-strong.

Mr. Jaisankar Dhandapani of SAI India, the new Community of Practice (CoP) Manager, gave updates on the KSC-IDI Community Portal. He promoted the portal as an effective and efficient platform for knowledge sharing given the geographical dispersion of the working group members.

As part of its knowledge sharing mandate, portion of the meeting was dedicated to presentations by ten (10) volunteer SAIs of their experiences in auditing public debt in their respective countries.

The group also took time to decide on what activities to prioritize from its Work Plan 2020-2022. Identification of priority levels for each activity was agreed to be part of post-meeting activities.

At the event’s closing, the SAI Bhutan confirmed hosting the 2020 WGPD meeting. SAIs of Indonesia, Kuwait, and Qatar expressed interest in hosting the 2021 meeting.