Minister disappointed at spike in misuse cases

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 25 November 2018, 12:00AM

Minister of Finance Sili Epa Tuioti says he is “extremely disappointed” with the increasing number of public funds misuse cases within Government ministries. 

He said it is time for the Chief Executive Officers of the Government different ministries and agencies to be held accountable for money missing from their budgets. 

Samoa Observer recently reported on allegations of misappropriation totaling $100,000 by a senior official working in the Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration.

In June this year, a cashier working with the Ministry of Finance, was investigated for allegedly misusing public funds to the tune of $2400. 

“Public monies lost is very concerning for me, as Minister of Finance and we will do what it takes to recover those monies,” he said. 

The address the problem, Sili said the CEOs should take responsibility to ensure that processes for the accounting of funds are intact.  

“There is also a need for the C.E.O.’s to reported to the M.O.F. once they suspect of missing funds. I am extremely disappointed,” he added.  

The Ministry of Finance, according to the Minister, has been directed by the Government to take responsibility and hold officers to account to ensure money taken is repaid. 

“And to also make sure that internal control in place are adhered and those who are taking public funds must stop. You may not get caught today, but you will be caught sooner. No public servant should be taking money it is a problem and we are working on to address it,” he said.  

Another misappropriated case—which was reported in June this year—relates to public funds where is $17,135 allegedly went missing from Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet and was confirmed by the Ministry’s CEO Agafili Shem Leo. Furthermore, the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment and Works Transport and Infrastructure also reported similar cases.

At the time the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Chief Executive Officer Ulu Bismarck Crawley confirmed the investigation with the missing funds amounting to over $7,000 while $12,000 was allegedly misappropriated at the Ministry for Works Transport and Infrastructure. 

In June, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Lavea Tupa’imatuna Lavea, also expressed concern at alleged misappropriation of Government funds.  

He said the irregularities have been reported to the Ministry of Police for their investigation and appropriate action,” he said.  

“And yes it very much concerns us, the Internal Audit Officers carry out spot checks and that assists with Internal Controls, which in turn picks up on unaccounted Government funds.  

“The Ministries have also reported these irregularities to our office as indicated under the law; the Ministries are obligated to report such incidents immediately. 

“And that is why we are highly concerned because of the excessive effort we put in to investigate these matters; given these types of incidents puts a huge negative exposure on the Government when monies are unaccounted for,” said Lavea at the time. 

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 25 November 2018, 12:00AM

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