Reports Support Need For Reforms

The content of the Auditor-General’s reports backs the Government’s plan to reform the civil service. The following findings reinforce the case for change to modernise the service. 2010 Report –
22 Oct 2014 15:51
Reports  Support Need For  Reforms
Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort general manager Francis Lee. Photo: Charles Chambers

The content of the Auditor-General’s reports backs the Government’s plan to reform the civil service.
The following findings reinforce the case for change to modernise the service.

2010 Report
– The Ministry of Education overspent its budgetary allocation by $14,070,990.64. A total of $46,620.85 was noted by audit as overpayment of salaries by the ministry. It comprised double payment of acting allowances, payment of maternity leave on fourth confinements and overpayment due to rescinding of promotion and late arrivals. Some of the officers who resigned continued to be paid for a few pay periods for $55,168. Some of the staff had PSC loan amounting to $13,318 and had resigned.
– In Foreign Affairs, a number of Fijian missions came under the spotlight. The Wellington mission renovation cost went over budget by NZ$16,512.67 because it failed to follow procedures. The India mission paid a penalty of $61,235.01 to the landlord for giving short notice to vacate.
The London mission properties were in appalling condition and not suitable for entertaining guests.
The Sydney mission business plan was not synchronised with the ministry’s Annual Corporate Plan. Canberra mission failed to make prompt payment of bills incurring penalties and budget readjustments.
– In the Ministry of Works and Transport it is recommended that the operations of the Trading and Manufacturing Accounts should be improved. Most TMA have continuosly operated at substantial losses. Accounting records were inadequate to provide sufficient appropriate audit evidence to substantiate the balance reported in the financial statements of the TMA. The reliability of information provided through the reconciliation of accounts was doubtful as there were variances noted between the various reconciliations prepared by the ministry and the balances reflected in the General Ledger. Circumvention of procurement and payment procedures were prevalent as in previous years, increasing the risk of fraud and mismanagement of public funds. Record keeping should be improved across the ministry.

2011 Report
-National Planning Office allowed payments of per diem allowances and travel advances to officers travelling overseas to attend workshops, training, seminars and regional forums even though these trips were fully funded by host countries.
-Department of Immigration failed to submit the Annual Trust Fund Statement of receipts and expenditure in the Agency Financial Statement. A variance of $80,946.94 existed in the Operating Trust Fund Account balance between department’s reconciliation and the general ledger balance. An amount totaling $1,260,897.24 has been in the account for more than 10 years and department failed to advertise for these refunds.
-In the Ministry of Justice, there is prolonged delay in finalising the review of the Companies Act. Non-submission of annual returns to Registrar of Companies Office by certain registered companies. Lack of resources, poor tracking and weakness in the existing laws were noted in the Official Receivers Unit.
-The Bureau of Statistics re-engaged a retired officer without obtaining PSC approval. The officer was paid a salary totaling $17,225 without a valid contract of employment.
– Ministry of Health overspent its payroll allocations by $14,498,121.48 despite having 96 established and 276 unestablished positions vacant. The Ministry did not use $340,000 allocated in its budget to buy water tanks and sanitations for villages and communities in the North. The ministry held expired drugs valued at $1,518,435.50 in its stock.  It paid  $258,118 for litigation claims because of negligence by medical professionals, $58,118 more than the budget.

2012 Report
– In the Ministry of Health, $635,645.86 worth of medical stock expired at 31/12/12. Although 58 per cent in expired stocks were noted in 2012 compared to 2011, audit is of the view that the value of the expired stock is substantial. Some of the drugs and consumables costing $39,516.49 bought in2012 were not used at all. As a result 100 per cent of these drugs and consumables expired.
– The Ministry of Education lost $47,674.56 through embezzlement by its staff. Board of survey was not carried out for a number of sections of the ministry. Staff were overpaid salaries totaling $255,169.29.  The ministry used funds from other allocations to provide an additional $6,758,350 to the free bus fare scheme. It did not reconcile the bus fare coupons distributed to schools with the used coupons from transport providers. A significant variance of 3,622,694 coupons with a total value of $2,035,541 was noted between the two records. The ministry paid $230,312 to Telecom Fiji for e-ticketing cards which were not received by the ministry. A contract between the Ministry and Telecom Fiji was not produced for audit. The purchase order and the cheque were signed by the senior accountant in excess of his authorised limit of $3000.The ministry diverted $115,156 from tuition fee grant allocation for secondary schools and  $115,156 from primary schools allocation to pay Telecom Fiji. It paid $376,742.35 to Foneology as cost of top-up for busfare cards without a valid contract.

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