S.N.P.F. on the radar for farewell parties, staff uniforms

The Audit Office of Samoa has zeroed in on the “significant amount of money” that the Samoa National Provident Fund has used on farewell parties and staff uniforms.

The Auditor-General and Controller, Fuimaono Afele Taimalelagi, also highlighted the loss of over half-a-million tala due to a spike in boat fare and medical expenses.

The concerns of the Auditor were outlined in the Audit Report for the Financial Year 2018-2019. 

During the Auditors Comprehensive Spot Check for the period 1 July 2017 – 28 February 2018,  they uncovered the use of public funds by the S.N.P.F. to purchase uniforms and monetary gifts as well as pay for parties.  

“The use of public funds to pay for 50 per cent 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. 

“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.”

Furthermore the Auditor pointed out that their review of the Senior Citizen Benefit Fund for the year ended 30 June 2018 found losses of $552,882. 

“The Fund incurred a loss of $552,882 during the financial year due to increased expenses of boat and medical fares,” stated the audit report.

“The Fund has increased budget provisions for 2018-2019 because the organisations 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.”

The S.N.P.F. Chief Executive Officer, Pauli Prince Suhren, has not responded to attempts by the Samoa Observer to seek his comment including through email. 

The relevant part of the Audit Report is printed below verbatim.

3.20 Samoa National Provident Fund for year ended 30 June 2018 

1. The interest charged on loans has not been paid as these accounts are slightly higher than normal loans. SNPF responded the clients are aware of interest charged on loan in arrears and they have processes in place for loan in arrears. 

2. There is no standardised policy in creating provisions of arrears in loans. The Fund strives to recover all doubtful debts and write-off is never an option unless all other recovery measures are well exhausted. 

3. The SNPF Apia main headquarters is currently accounted as investment property instead of property, plant and equipment as per IAS16. The Fund will reconfirm the classification of the property and will amend accordingly. 

4. Draft timesheets are not kept by the Corporate Services Manager and the Fund have noted the recommendation. 

5. Rental contracts for BMR for Polynesian Airlines pending management action accordingly.

3.21 Samoa National Provident Fund Comprehensive Spot Check for the period 1 July 2017 – 28 February 2018 

1. The Finance Manual was reviewed in January 2007, but the amendments have not been updated accordingly. The Fund responded that the finalisation of the manual is pending its new systems as most processes have been computerised hence the current manual is still being used as a guidance. waiting for all our new systems to be in place before we finalise one unified manual of operations for daily operations of the Finance Team. 

2. 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. 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. 

3. Withholding tax was not deducted for services provided to the Fund. The Fund believes the provision only applies to income earned, but it has noted the recommendation for compliance with the Income Tax Act 2012. 

4. The Fund's fleet were not labelled in compliance with the Government Vehicle Regulation 2015 and the management have noted the issue for consideration. 

5. There were four accidents with the Fund vehicles with no irregularity reports. Management have noted that Irregularity reports are only prepared for serious damages that need major repairs. The dents and scratches are very minor and will be repaired when necessary with maintenance costs. 

3.22 Samoa National Provident Fund – Parliamentary Pension Scheme for year ended 30 June 2018 

1. There is no formal agreement that state the actual amount of fees the government will pay to NPF for managing their contribution and management have noted the issue for a formal agreement as the Board approved NPF management fees in 2007. 

3.23 Samoa National Provident Fund – Senior Citizen Benefit Fund for year ended 30 June 2018 

1. Multiple users have one password for logon to the Attache Accounting System and the password has not yet been changed since new changes in staff members and the Fund will work for improvements for the current financial year. 

2. There are some delayed claims up to 3 to 4 months for medical and boat fares from the Ministry of Health and Samoa Shipping Corporation and the Fund will liaise with the appropriate personnel. 

3. The Fund does not maintain records of previous pay periods spreadsheets and they are committed to implement in this financial year. 

4. 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. 

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