An audit of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture has uncovered overpayments in salaries totaling $45,593 to teachers in 13 schools.
The inquiry into the Ministry’s accounts for the financial year 2012-2013 was undertaken by the Audit Office. But the inquiry could not continue further due to the unavailability of records at that time.
“The audit could not proceed further due to unavailability of records. The substantial amount should be followed up and be investigated further for recovery action.
“The internal auditor was supposed to continue with this exercise for Upolu and Savai’i,” stated the audit report.
The Ministry, in response to the concerns highlighted in the audit report, said it would cease the salary payments immediately upon receiving the resignation of the teachers and staff members.
“However, some teachers or staff members had left the ministry without resignation, or they submitted resignations to the principal and the principal did not submit to the ministry in due course, hence the payment.
“The majority of these cases were teachers who have migrated, and therefore the ministry could not track them down for reimbursement,” the audit report stated.
The review of the Ministry’s accounts also showed that the total debts stood at $60,488.90 with the audit report stating that out of this $3,925 (6 per cent) came from the financial year 2011-2012 under audit, and the $56,563.90 (94 per cent) belonged to old debtors from previous years; and 90 per cent or $54,440 belonged to teachers.
Another issue highlighted by the auditor report was the use of the general supplies budget to buy sports uniform for the Avele College netball team and coaches totaling $7320.
“These items were usually funded from Trust Accounts and not from the Ministry operating budget. These school expenses were usually paid from school trust accounts.
“However, with the closure of school trust accounts, without prior advice to schools, the general supplies were used to procure sports uniforms.
“This was an exception due to the fact that trust accounts were closed without advice to schools,” stated the audit report.
On staffing issues, the audit report noted that leave returns for some schools for the stated periods were not given to the audit team when requested.
“Out of the 35 schools reviewed, 31 did not comply with PSC policies and working conditions where all leave taken should be recorded in the attendance book and leave records. The majority of schools had many instances of teachers’ leave balances, that did not match with information recorded in attendance books,” the audit report stated.