Finance ministry queried on missing Didao $1m shipping grant

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BY JARED KOLI

THE Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT) has been urged to come clean about the missing $1million shipping grant allocated to Didao Development Corporation (DDC).

Revelations furnished to Island Sun yesterday speaks volume of the inconsistency going on in the government’s top financial bureau.

DDC spokesperson Heddy Brian Wanealafa says he has been following up with the MoFT auditor general and the accountant general but they maintain that the payment has already been made.

The company, owned by local businessman Toata Molea, applied for $1 million through the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) Shipping Grant from the National Government Transport Fund in September 2015 and was awarded in October 2015.

“Payment was then said to be paid by January 2016 through MoFT, but since then not a single dollar was paid to the company,”

“An audit report supplied by the Auditor General into the shipping grant clearly stated that we have received that $1million in 2015 but all documents are missing. What is the truth behind all this?

“No Payment Voucher (PV) or bank cheque was since accorded to the company. MoFT told us the PV was lost but the payment was already made. Where are they diverting the funds to?” Wanealafa queried.

He had consulted the new accountant general (AG) Anna Halea over a month ago to raise the PV but have not had any response since then.

“I want MoFT to clearly state which committee or panel decides on the issue to divert funds. Outgoing Finance Minister Snyder Rini must be held responsible for this,” he alleged.

He maintained that no one in the MoFT has the right to change the award which was given by MID.

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Wanealafa said the company stands its ground and wants to know the reason behind this missing money and who is responsible for it.

“I want the current Accountant General to come out clear and point to where the payment was directed,” he said.

Accountant General, Anna Halea, who had recently took up the role in May this year, when contacted yesterday maintained that she is not aware of this issue.

“The issue of shipping grant was decided when I wasn’t taken up this post, and I have no idea about that.

“I don’t have any document related on the issue, might be somebody else,” Halea said.

She instructed this newspaper to check with the Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) which deals with bank electronic transfers.

FMIS Director Mr Michael Menapi when reached also denied having any idea on the issue.

“Sorry, I’m not in a good position to answer that because I have no idea with that issue, we only deal with the information system,” Menapi said.

He told the paper that Chief Accountant Harriet Honimae would be a right person to comment on the issue – but she is on holiday leave.

The paper then contacted the Permanent Secretary (PS) through his Executive Personal Secretary (EPS) but the PS was not in office.

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