S.N.P.F. Chief disputes report

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa National Development Fund (S.N.P.F.), Pauli Prince Suhren, has objected to a story titled “S.N.P.F. on the radar for farewell parties, staff uniforms” calling it “fake news.”

Pauli made the allegation in a letter to the editor dated 31 August 2020, where he also accused the newspaper of “rushing to conclusions in an attempt to put a negative light on the Fund.”

The story in question was based on the Audit Report for the Financial Year 2018-2019 submitted to Parliament. In the report, Auditor-General and Controller, Fuimaono Afele Taimalelagi, highlighted concerns about a “significant amount of money” the Fund had spent on a farewell party as well as staff uniforms.

The report also revealed that the “Fund incurred a loss of $552,882 during the financial year” in the Senior Citizen Benefit Fund.

But Pauli disputed the story, saying there was no loss at all.

“There was never any loss at all. This specifically refers to the accounts of the Samoa Senior Citizens Benefit Fund (SCBF) whose budget is allocated from the MoF,” Pauli wrote.

“For this particular year in question, the SCBF spent more than was allocated from the Treasury – simple as that. We cannot stop our services to our elderly community simply because the budget allocation has run out – it’s a matter of common sense.

“Since then, we have rectified this problem by securing a more substantial allocation for SCBF from the MoF - $28 million tala approved for the new FY 20-21 – a 40% increase from previous years signifying the government’s ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of our elderly and retired ua afu le tautua mo le atunuu.”

As for questions about the “purchase of uniforms,” Pauli argued that this practice is legitimate, which allows the funding of uniforms for special purposes and occasions.

“However, the Fund has always paid only 50% of the cost while the other 50% is funded by the employee. In 2017, we had a uniform for the 55th Independence celebrations on which occasion the entire staff marched in triumphant commemoration,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer also corrected the reference to the “parties” in the story.

“The fact that you put this in the plural when the audit report only indicates one Board-approved farewell function demonstrates your newspaper’s ever-increasing fondness for fake news,” he said.

“Anyway, the management response was noted in your article.

The above and all the other matters raised have already been clarified with the Audit Office and in front of relevant parliamentary committees as is the usual process year-on-year.

“Next time you should ask the Audit Office for a clarification instead of rushing to conclusions in an attempt to put a negative light on the Fund.”

The Samoa Observer is reprinting here verbatim what the Audit report said about the issues disputed by Pauli and called “fake news.”

1: Senior Citizens Benefit fund:

“The Fund incurred a loss of $552,882 during the financial year due to increased expenses of boat and medical fares. The Fund has increased budget provisions for 2018-2019 because the organisations (SCBF, NHS & SSC) do not have controls in place to manage fund allocated. A meeting is being organised for stringent monitoring with more efficient and effective solutions to manage the funds for the next financial year.”

 

2: Uniforms

“The use of public funds to pay for 50% of the total cost of staff uniform for the period as well as other previous financial years is not in line with FK (13)31. A professional uniform is needed due to the nature of their work that serve the public.”

 3: Farewell party 

“There was also a significant amount of money spent that relates to the function held to farewell two former employees of the Fund including monetary gifts of $5,000 approved by the board and purchase of alcohol. The Fund responded that it was one-off issue approved by the board to farewell two long serving senior management and the management have noted the issue for way forward.”

 Here is Pauli’s letter in full:

Editor

Samoa Observer 

Vaitele

31st August 2020

 RE; Front Page article headlined; S.N.P.F. on the radar for farewell parties, staff uniforms written by Joyetter Feagaimaali’i

I write to correct the fake news in your newspaper today;

  1. “The loss of over half a million tala”. There was never any loss at all. This specifically refers to the accounts of the Samoa Senior Citizens Benefit Fund (SCBF) whose budget is allocated from the MoF. For this particular year in question, the SCBF spent more than was allocated from the Treasury – simple as that. We cannot stop our services to our elderly community simply because the budget allocation has run out – it’s a matter of common sense. Since then, we have rectified this problem by securing a more substantial allocation for SCBF from the MoF - $28 million tala approved for the new FY 20-21 – a 40% increase from previous years signifying the government’s ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of our elderly and retired ua afu le tautua mo le atunuu.
  2. “Purchase of Uniforms”. FK (15) 13 allows the funding of uniforms for special purposes and occasions. However, the Fund has always paid only 50% of the cost while the other 50% is funded by the employee. In 2017, we had a uniform for the 55th Independence celebrations on which occasion the entire staff marched in triumphant commemoration.
  3. “Farewell parties”. The fact that you put this in the plural when the audit report only indicates one Board-approved farewell function demonstrates your newspaper’s ever-increasing fondness for fake news! Anyway, the management response was noted in your article.

 The above and all the other matters raised have already been clarified with the Audit Office and in front of relevant parliamentary committees as is the usual process year-on-year. Next time you should ask the Audit Office for a clarification instead of rushing to conclusions in an attempt to put a negative light on the Fund. Soifua.

Pauli Prince Suhren 

Chief Executive Officer

SAMOA NATIONAL PROVIDENT FUND.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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