The Ministry of Police spent over $90,000 on vehicle hire and racked up to $66,000 in bills on vehicle spare parts and maintenance costs, an audit has revealed.
The non-registration of guns that were seized by the police and the rise in the number of damaged firearms were also raised in the same audit.
The Ministry’s books for the financial year 2014 came under the scrutiny of the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, and was compiled in a report which he presented to the Parliament recently.
The audit report was critical of the exorbitant cost that the Ministry incurred on vehicle hire and recommended that more control should be put in place to decrease spending on hire vehicles and minimise maintenance cost.
“Vehicle hire expenses alone added up to $95,183.
The Ministry should introduce steps to minimize the amount spent on hiring vehicles, and ensure all important details relating to the vehicles are recorded in the register and emphasize more controls on the use of vehicles to minimize the cost of repairs and maintenance.”
The audit report also noted the absence of guns in the armoury that were seized by the police and the rise in the number of damaged firearms that the police used as spare parts for other weapons.
“Several new guns seized by police (to be counted as part of police armoury) were not included. We also noticed the rise in the number of damaged guns which are now used as spare parts for other weapons.
“It is recommended that the armoury register be updated for safety reasons and for monitoring of weapons movement. It is also important to raise Irregularity Reports for any damaged or lost weapons,” the audit stated.
The continued recruitment of staff – despite the absence of an approved organizational structure at the Ministry – was also a cause for concern with the audit report warning the new staff positions risked not being vetted by the police commissioner and could breach the Police Service Act 2009.
“A review must be undertaken of the current implementation of the proposed organisation structure to ensure that it is complying with relevant laws and policies and if needed a separate opinion be sought from the Attorney General to ensure that the individual employment contracts for newly recruited positions can be ratified or whether they should be postponed.”
But the Ministry, in response to the issues highlighted by the auditor report, stated that it was addressing the issue by re-profiling the Ministry and working on a structure, which was expected to be approved by Cabinet in 2015.
The failure by the Ministry to update debtors’ ledgers was also noted by the audit as their checks only uncovered records covering the financial years 2011-2012.
“Accounts receivables had increased with some debtors outstanding for more than a year. The register of debtors for the financial year under review was also incomplete with no reconciliation or follow-up for some accounts.
“The Ministry should ensure an updated debtors ledger, and a monthly reconciliation to Finance One is carried out with any variances being investigated and corrected.
“The Ministry was unable to achieve its forecast revenue during 2013/14. This has been a continuing trend for Police for the last three financial years. Current methods used to forecast revenue should be reviewed to ensure the most accurate forecast possible,” stated the audit report.
In response to the concerns highlighted by the audit, the Ministry has reviewed its fees and charges under the non-taxation revenue rebasing project. The forecast revenue is now based on volume, which is an accurate forecast for revenue which will assist the Ministry to achieve its targets.
The Ministry also transferred $682,437 from its personnel budget to support and fund other expenditures such as capital and operating and will review spending on outputs that regularly exceed budget, in order to identify and act on any potential cost savings.