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FOCUS: Public Accounts: What They Said

FOCUS: Public Accounts: What They Said
Public Accounts Committee chaiperson Biman Prasad (left) of the National Federation Party and deputy chairperson Balmindar Singh of FijiFirst.
May 13
09:05 2015

Members of the PAC

Chairperson: BIman Prasad  (National Federation Party)

Deputy: Balmindar Singh (FijiFirst)

Members: Semi Koroilavesau (FF)

Aseri Radrodro (Social Democratic Liberal Party), Sanjit Patel (FF)
What the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) provide a comprehensive report to the Public Accounts Committee, to be tabled in Parliament,on all actions taken on matters of corruption identified in the Auditor-General reports for 2007, 2008, and 2009. Public allegations of perceived corruption have been made  by the Auditor-General. The FICAC is bound to respond to these allegations in public, and in full.Recommendation One:

Recommendation Two:

That the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) and the independent Office of the Auditor-General develop an information-sharing process,via a Memorandum of Understanding, that allows swift action on any corruption

concerns uncovered by the Auditor-General, rather than waiting for the Public Accounts Committee, or the Parliament, to get involved. Corruption must be dealt with as soon as it is identified, and must be dealt with in the most comprehensive way that resources allow.

Recommendation Three:

On the back of the 2012/2013 International Monetary Fund/World Bank ‘integrity test’of the Fiji Budget Cycle, the Ministry of Finance should progress the Fiji Governance

Reform Program as a matter of the highest priority.

Recommendation Four:

The Public Accounts Committee will meet with the Ministry of Finance and the office of the Auditor-General on a quarterly basis to receive a status report on how the Ministry is working on resolving each of these repeat concerns raised by the AuditorGeneral in 2007, 2008, and 2009, in relation to the twenty-nine (29) systemic governance issues highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee in this report.

Recommendation Five:

The Office of the Auditor-General to consider a performance audit of the skills and education of finance officers within each agency, and to provide recommendations where further support, education, or training is required.

Recommendation Six:

The Office of the Auditor-General to consider writing to the Public Accounts Committee, and all 50 Members of Parliament, at the start of its planning cycle, seeking suggestions for future performance audits. Suggestions made should be considered strongly by the Auditor-General.

Recommendation Seven:

That the Office of the Auditor-General consider a specific performance audit on gender issues across all-of-Government. This should include gender analysis within each agency on the best options for an audit of this kind.

Recommendation Eight:

FICAC build a system that prioritises issues raised by the Auditor-General, or the  Public Accounts Committee. A thorough investigation of all corruption and gross maladministration issues already publicly raised by the Auditor-General from 2007-
2009 should occur, if it has not done so already. Any matters confirmed to be of a corrupt nature MUST be pursued.

Recommendation Nine:

The Ministry of Finance to take particular notice of the recurring themes from 2007,2008, and 2009, and to provide assurance to themselves, and to the Parliament, that the 29 matters raised in this report have been addressed, or will be addressed as a  matter of urgency.

Recommendation Ten:

The Ministry of Finance be allocated a ‘special allowance’ in the 2016 Budget to make sure these recurring themes from 2007, 2008, and 2009 are reviewed, audited,  and where necessary, addressed with a proper works schedule that aligns with public

sector accounting and auditing principles across all-of-Government.

Recommendation Eleven:

The Ministry of Finance appoint a project team to minimise and/or resolve all of the  29 systemic governance issues raised by the Auditor-General’s reports from 2007,  2008, and 2009. This project team is to initially review all timelines and timetables of relevance to each issue, to see if a smarter way of accounting and reporting can help staff resolve the matters, and then to develop a works schedule with realistic timelines to begin addressing those issues that remain outstanding.

Recommendation Twelve:

The Ministry of Finance establish a monitoring unit in addition to the compliance unit as a matter of urgency to provide much-needed oversight across all agencies, to  ensure delivery on expected public sector accounting and auditing principles.

Recommendation Thirteen:

That the Ministry of Finance consider the concept of “earned autonomy” in future  internal reporting from all agencies, based on the worrying trends highlighted by the 2007, 2008, and 2009 Auditor-General reports. Agencies that deliver on basic public  sector accounting rules and standards earn more autonomy, with the benefit of less internal reporting requirements. Those that continually stand in breach of these standard internal reporting requirements earn more attention from Finance, and  Government, until their performance improves.

Recommendation Fourteen:

With the large number of issues, discrepancies, and inconsistencies involving asset management across all-of-government, the Ministry consider strengthening its asset management unit within the central Ministry, taking full and consistent responsibility for all assets across all-of-government, as well as providing purchasing power to all agencies.

Recommendation Fifteen:

That the Ministry of Finance undertake a program of asset disposal as part of a renewed asset management program. Where any assets from any agency are held in excess to requirements, these should be disposed of at the appropriate market rate through a works program of asset disposal.

Recommendation Sixteen:

With the large number of issues, discrepancies, and inconsistencies involving vehicles across all agencies, the Ministry for Finance should consider centralising a
fleet management unit within the central Ministry, that takes full and consistent responsibility for all fleet management issues across all-of-Government, as well as providing purchasing power to all agencies. Benefits can then be shared on the

purchase, maintenance, rollover, use, and costs in accident procedures.

Recommendation Seventeen:

That the Ministry of Finance place a priority on a centralised database of all staffing workloads in all agencies, that is updated as close to real-time as is feasible. This is to manage and review the staffing workloads in each agency, including the breakdown of full-time, part-time, casual and temporary staff. Red flags should be established where unusual staff workloads occur, particularly in relation to temporary taff.

Recommendation Eighteen:

With the large number of issues, discrepancies, and inconsistencies in trust fund management across all agencies, the Ministry of Finance should consider all options for improving trust fund management by all agencies, including rationalising and centralising trust fund management within the Ministry of Finance.

Recommendation Nineteen:

That the Ministry of Finance direct each agency to report on gender issues within their annual reports. Gender budgeting and reporting methods should be developed.

Recommendation Twenty:

The Ministry of Finance must develop new control systems that make payments on projects based on the actual delivery of the project. Too many examples have been raised by the Auditor-General reports of 2007, 2008, and 2009 to indicate payments

have been made for projects that in reality were never delivered.

Recommendation Twenty-One:

All accounts MUST be covered by FMIS by year end 2015. Any accounts held by any agencies, and not recorded on FMIS beyond this date, should be treated as a serious breach of duty by the Permanent Secretary, CEO, and/or Finance officers. Any breach should be referred to Parliament by the Minister for Finance as soon as it is identified, with a full explanation by the Minister on why it occurred, what penalties have been applied, and what measures have been taken to prevent it happening again.

The Public Accounts Committee is expected to meet again in three weeks to complete work on the 2010-2013 Auditor-General’s Reports.

A full copy of the 2009 Public Accounts Committee Report can be downloaded from the Fijian Parliament website  www.parliament.gov.fj.

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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