Ministry ran up $700,000 internet bill

The Ministry of Natural Resources Environment (M.N.R.E.) ran up an internet bill of approximately $700,000 for the financial year 2012-2013.

Details of the excessive charges racked up by the Ministry were highlighted in a report that the Audit office compiled and submitted to the Parliament. The charge included internet downloads that exceeded the monthly plan.

“Internet bill was approximately $700,000. There was lack of monitoring, control and lack of proper planning that the internet bill was increasing and out of control. IT policy is enforced. 

“Reporting is also done on a monthly basis. Internet access is restricted to the management level. Staffs are able to use their respective Assistant Chief Executive Officer’s machine to access the internet for work purposes only. The current firewall is not effective,” the audit report stated. 

The audit report also highlighted accumulated arrears that were backdated four to five years on the account receivable and amounted to $1.49 million. 

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Revenue collection for both years that were audited were also below target noted the audit report. One issue that the audit report pointed out was revenue collection, which it said was affected by the demand from public and other users of maps and technical information, and also the decline in the number of sawmill registrations.

The audit report also noted that the handing over of cash and the mastering of sub-receipts receipted for the Tafaigata Landfill were mostly delayed for three-four days. 

In relation to the concerns at the $1.49 million accumulated arrears, the Ministry said there has been a lot of improvement with the collection of outstanding debts. The bulk of accounts receivable balances are lease arrears and the Ministry’s finance and lease divisions are working together to collect arrears.

Increasing arrears on charges issued to various accounts receivables for rubbish disposals to the landfill at Tafaigata was also noted by the audit report. These arrears totaled $126,631.20 in August 2013. 

But the Ministry in response said the C.S.D. and waste management unit are working closely to enhance collection and avoid future charges in waste disposal services. Cash payment is now enforced since the establishment of new system and new charges for landfill to avoid arrears.

The auditors also noted the irregularity report on the M.N.R.E. employee accused of mismanagement of funds of the Trust Society Project. 

“A review by the M.N.R.E. and the Ministry of Finance noted that the employee was not liable and was not involved in managing the fund. The employee resigned in May 2013 before the audit commenced. 

“No further action was taken. The audit office was copied on the outcome of this investigation. However, the setting up of Trust by the community is their own to decide,” added the audit report.

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