Board directors’ fees not taxed

Failure to tax the fees and sitting allowances of the Samoa Tourism Authority board members has caught the eye of the Audit Office.

The Audit Office, in a report to the Parliament, said the tax oversight was noted in an audit of the Samoa Tourism Authority’s books for the 2014 financial year.

The audit report also noted issues relating to overtime payments and how they were processed without the approval of the relevant officers. There were also payments processed which lacked payment vouchers and support documents.

 “Long outstanding trade debtors continue to be carried over every year. This was raised in the previous audit but was not included in the current submission to the Board for these to be written off. 

“There is no proper reconciliations were prepared on a monthly basis. A new account opened in July 2013 to cater as an online shopping account was not properly accounted for in the general ledger,” stated the audit report.

Furthermore, the registers for accountable forms, such as receipt books and fuel coupons, were incomplete or in some cases not recorded. Highlighting its concerns, the audit report added that such information is a monitoring tool for accountable forms, as it will enable the responsible officer to identify or be held accountable for misplaced or missing information.  

The audit report also highlighted the discovery of a petty cash voucher that did not have a proper receipt to support the payments made as well as un-presented cheques that were over six months old. 

The presence of the un-presented cheques was also highlighted as a concern by the audit report, as it could open the door to fraud (physical and financial reporting). 

“It was recommended for the authority to properly review all un-presented cheques before the write-back or reversals of these cheques are made.

“There were accountable advances disbursed with no proper acquittal reports obtained to support utilising of advanced funds. All accountable advances should have sufficient documents to support the use of cash being advanced,” stated the audit report. 

The audit report also revealed what it said was the alleged violation of human resource policies. These included the lack of proper updating of staff leave cards, 

“There were no signed employment contracts between the Samoa Tourism Authority and the management contractual staff. Some employee’s time cards were noted to have not been clocked in and out. 

“There were also time cards that were manually amended. These actions had defeated the purpose of the time clock to capture the ins and outs of staff and recording of accurate times of actual hours worked,” added the audit report. 

The audit report has recommended that staff comply with the procedures and policies put in place and that every employee should clock in upon arrival and clock out when departing from work. 

The advancement payment of fuel for office-owned vehicles was also a cause for concern by the audit report, as it said the practice at that time was risky as other vehicles could be refueled. 

“The risk that any other vehicle other than the authority’s could be refueled under this prepayment arrangement was increased. Collusion and the station operators or between the former and other third party people) could be easily performed at the expense of the authority,” the audit report stated.

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