“It is, of course, of the utmost importance that the Nordic governments’ money is as well managed as possible,” says Mogens Jensen, the Danish Minister for Nordic Co-operation, who chaired the meeting.
“At the meeting, the ministers for co-operation drew up fixed deadlines for the Council of Ministers’ Secretariat to comply with, and we expect that the Secretary General will take responsibility for ensuring they are met. We also decided to bring in an external financial officer to manage the Secretariat’s work on producing correct accounts for 2020 and that the Secretariat must devote more personnel to its finance section, as this seems to be an absolute necessity,” he stressed.
In the light of the meeting with the Danish National Audit Office, the Council of Ministers’ Secretariat will now focus on implementing the full functionality of the new system, carrying out quality-assurance on its financial procedures and reviewing how the Council of Ministers’ total project liabilities are calculated. The deadline is to present complete and correct accounts for 2020 by mid-February at the latest.
“We take this very seriously, of course,” says Secretary General Paula Lehtomäki. “It is also important for me to stress that the Danish National Audit Office has confirmed in our discussions that there is no suspicion whatsoever of any irregularities or that funds have been misused.”
The Audit Office also found fault with the Nordic Council of Ministers’ annual accounts for 2018. To ensure that there were no irregularities prior to the introduction of the new system, an internal audit of 13,000 entries was conducted. It found nothing untoward and no suspicions of misuse of funds during the period covered (January 2018 to April 2019).