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Gender specialist payment raises questions

The overpayment of over $7,000 tala to a gender management specialist by a Ministry has come under the scrutiny of the Auditor.

Controller and Auditor General, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, in an Audit Report for the Financial Year 2015-2016 for the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development queried the payment of $7,149.71 for a gender management specialist.

The position was administered under the Ministry’s Samoa Women Shaping Development Programme for the period ended 1 May 2015–30 June 2016. 

“There was a delayed detection of a possible overpayment in the salary of the gender management specialist by $7,149.71,” the Auditor said in the Annual Report.

 Fuimaono emphasised that the salary advance application was processed by Gender Management Specialist after working for six weeks without compensation, due to delay in signing of the employment contract between the project and the employee.

“The gender management specialist was compensated for overtime but the contract does not allow payment of overtime. And the purchase order register was incomplete in order to capture all project-related payments,” added the Auditor.

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to get comments from the Ministry in question last week were unsuccessful as of press time. 

However, the Ministry of Finance, in response to the concerns highlighted by the Auditor in the Audit Report, said they acknowledged their delay in detecting the overpayment and will work to strengthen their monitoring of such payments in the future. 

The Auditor Report also pointed out that the gender management specialist carried out higher duties, in addition to their project-related responsibilities. The roles that the specialist took on were not included under extra duties in their employment contract, with the Audit Report stating that there was no assessment done on the project implement, and the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) was not consulted by the Ministry on the extra responsibilities as it was not in the 2015–2016 work plan.

The Ministry of Finance, in response to the Auditor’s concerns, said: “The project activities are streamlined with the Division’s objective given the approval by P.S.C. There is no impact on the implementation of the project thus payment of higher duties allowance is accommodated from the Ministry budget.”  

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