Payout “unlawful,” Audit Office finds

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By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu, 28 October 2018

The Audit Office, headed by Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele, has raised a number of questions about practices within the Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.).

The questions include an “end of contract” payout to the Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Papali'i Willie Nansen, in 2015. 

The issue is outlined in the Audit Office Report to Parliament for the year 2015. The report does not say how much the payout was.

But the Auditors found the “end of contract payout” inappropriate and unlawful. This was uncovered as a result of the “comprehensive spot check for the period 1 July 2014 – 31 January 2015” for the S.S.C. 

According to the report, the payment was made without a signed contract of employment, clearly stipulating terms, conditions and entitlements. 

 “This is an inappropriate and unlawful practice given that there was no signed agreement between the contractual employee and the Corporation,” the report reads. 

But the questions don’t stop there.

The Audit Office highlighted concerns about the practice of cash payments and office daily expenses made out of “daily cash collections.”

This issue was also raised in a previous Audit, says the report. 

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The report outlined a number of issues such as staff donation from the Corporation's funds and why the Corporation is paying for the C.E.O.'s cell phone bills.

“The Corporation is paying for the C.E.O. cell phone bills, yet he is receiving a telephone allowance of $3,600 annually as per normal C.E.O. benefits for all Government heads,” the report reads. 

“Audit could not confirm whether this extra telephone payment is governed under the C.E.O.'s contract as the requested C.E.O.'s contract was not available at the time of the audit. 

“The telephone allowance included as part of the C.E.O. salary package was initially related to the C.E.O. landline home phone. That was how the telephone allowance first came prior to the existence of mobile phones in Samoa. 

“The C.E.O. cell phone in relation to the previous C.E.O.s of S.S.C. has been part of the normal communication costs which now becomes a need for the effective and efficient management of the Corporation operations and its affairs locally and overseas.”

Another issue is the Manual Policy of the Corporation, the limit for salary advance is $200 however there were salary advances that were “more than the limit.” 

Other concerns noted included the attendance books not being properly monitored; attendance and leave records of employees on vessels could not be verified to confirm entitlements being paid due to attendance books not being properly monitored.

The Auditors also raised questions about payments for funeral and wedding donations. $2,004 was allocated for a funeral while a wedding was $1,120. 

These payments were paid from the Corporation's funds instead of funding from Staff Social Fund or personal monies as per normal government procedures. 

“We noted in the payment register a number of cheques totalling $298,336.3 in value for the months of July 2012 - June 2013 (audit period) that was paid to SSC. 

“This is an indication of the amount of cash payments made out of daily collections which were later balanced by writing cheques payable to SSC increasing the risks of lapping and lading. 

“Bulk of the amounts quoted is the weekly food provisions for crew and staff which is about $4,080 per week and the small portion of the quoted amount relates to the normal petty cash items.”

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By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu, 28 October 2018

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