What an incredible waste of taxpayers money

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 August 2018, 12:00AM

The Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, uncovered a couple of rather interesting developments in his report to Parliament for the financial years 2013 and 2014.

We accept the incidents highlighted took place six years ago and that things might well be different now which we hope is the case. 

The truth is that when we look at what Chief Auditor Fuimaono uncovers in his report, it must be said that no wonder this country is in a mess today financially.

The facts are there for all to see. This Government is up to its neck in terms of debt. They are so desperate to find money they are extracting every penny from the poorest of the poor in Samoa. 

As if that is not enough, they have then resorted to the unthinkable by taxing the alofa of Church Ministers. 

And yet judging from Chief Auditor Fuimaono’s report into some of the bodies of the Government, this administration seems to have an endless flow of cash to splash on themselves and projects that only end up failing.

Take that ticketing machine at the Samoa Airport Authority (S.A.A.) for instance.

Many of us would recall how short the life span of this particular project was. It certainly raised a lot of questions at the time especially after the Government, as they do, made a song and dance about the ticketing machines at the official opening.

What was not known at the time, which Fuimaono and his team has now uncovered, was just how much money was wasted on it. 

We can tell you today that it cost $640,217.30. 

Have a look for yourself: “We found from our review of fixed assets that an amount totalling $529,398.77 was paid for the new Ticketing Machine project in 2013, which was awarded to a locally owned overseas company, as approved by the Tenders Board. The total amount approved for the project was for $642,348 and so the amount paid by the end of the current audited financial period ended 30th June 2013 was 82 percent of the total project. Further investigation revealed a final payment made in October 2013 of $110,818.53 totalling $640,217.30. 

Investigation of work done on the Ticketing Machine revealed work has not been completed up until the date of the completion of this audit in December 2013. No contract was sighted at the time of the audit but was made available later. At the end of the audit, the Authority has yet to settle the 40% of the first variation but 100% of the initial contract was already paid. SAA responded that this machine had already been installed, tested and commissioned in 2014.”

What an utter waste of money. 

Doesn’t this ring the bell about similar projects elsewhere where not only the costs were overinflated, they all failed? Does anyone recall that multi-million-tala water driller truck ordered from overseas only to end up rotting away at the Faleata Golf Course? 

Now the parking meter system at the airport is not exactly multi-million but more than half a million tala for a system that only worked for a little while? Who has that kind of money to waste? Can the Airport Authority justify these kinds of expenses? Who should be held accountable for such waste of taxpayers funds?

To be fair to the Airport, Chief Auditor Fuimaono’s report uncovers a whole lot interesting, eye-brow raising developments in the Government. 

Take the $25,000 Christmas gifts given to the Minister and Board of the Samoa Housing Corporation. The report said the Minister received $5,000 while the Board members $4000.

The Auditors went on to note that the gifts were “quite excessive and contrary to the good governance and accountability objectives of governing legislations, as well and the general duty of care of board directors.

“Such significant payments pertaining to the directors and the minister of the Corporation should first be approved from Cabinet.”

Well we couldn’t agree more. Imagine if this is happening in all Government bodies with Boards?

But then here is the real kicker. In response to the Auditor’s concerns, the Corporation in question explained that Christmas gifts have been an ongoing tradition during the festive season, with the amounts increasing over the years.

So if it was $25,000 then, how much is it now? This is just incredible.

But then stay tuned. We are still making our way through Chief Auditor Fuimaono’s report. The biggest question is, now that the report has arrived in Parliament some five years later, what are they going to do about it? Don’t hold your breath!

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 20 August 2018, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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