An audit of the Samoa Trust Estate Corporation has questioned the payout of its Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer from accumulated untaken annual leave.
The organisation’s C.E.O. and C.F.O. were paid an unspecified amount in 2013, despite their employment contracts stating that untaken annual leave should be forfeited, unless approval to defer the leave was given by the S.T.E.C. Board.
The concerns were expressed in an audit report on the financial affairs of the Corporation. The report was recently tabled in Parliament by the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, and covered the financial years 2013-2015.
The audit report said there was no authorisation from the Corporation’s Board except its Chairman.
“Contracted employees were not entitled to paid untaken annual leave during the duration of their contract, but only at the end of each contract. There was no approval from the board for accumulation of leave from the previous year, except authorization from the chairman," says the report.
“It was common practice to carry forward untaken annual leave from the previous year for all staff and this is against the policy according to Human Resource Manual 2012 stipulating that untaken annual leave at the end of the staff's leave year shall be forfeited, unless management has granted approval to defer leave for a period not exceeding six months,” stated the audit report.
But the S.T.E.C. management at that time, in response to the findings, said: “There was no Cabinet directive to suggest otherwise”.
Another alleged discrepancy, which caught the eye of the audit, was the payment of an increasing number of salary advances to employees and one board member.
“Most of the cash being receipted were salary advance recoveries. Due to its frequency, it is seen as a borrowing facility and not as an emergency process as it is the practice in the public service.”
The audit report said S.T.E.C. records also showed that for the financial year ended June 30, 2012 a number of staff advances were approved by the C.E.O. and paid out. And the organisation’s human resource manual was also not clear on how much a staff member could be paid as a salary advance.
But the S.T.E.C. management said it has removed salary advances and credit sales from its human resource manual as they were categorised general expenses instead of staff debtors.
The audit report also highlighted alleged inconsistencies in the number of coconut per ton of copra produced between months in a financial year.
“There were some months that had large variances compared to the 5,000 average benchmark, such as in July 2012, which had a 17,789 average. There was no evidence that these figures were questioned by management which shows a lack of controls and monitoring of the process of the production of copra and other coconut products.”
But the S.T.E.C. management said their coconut and stocktaking report were prepared on a fortnightly basis.