By EDDIE OSIFELO
PERMANENT Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology (MECCDM), Dr Melchior Mataki has described the ‘thematic compliance audit report’ as very fair.
The Office of the Auditor General conducted this audit in accordance with International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) namely the ISSAI 400: Compliance Audit Principles and ISSAI 4000: Compliance Audit Standard issued by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
The objective of this audit was to assess whether the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in MECCDM managed COVID-19 Procurement in accordance with relevant laws, policies and regulations of Solomon Islands Government.
These include the Public Financial Management Act 2013, The National Disaster Council Act 1989, Emergency Powers Acts for COVID-19, the Interim Financial Instructions currently in force and the Solomon Islands Government Procurement and Contract Manual (PCAM).
In the report, it was found that bloated prices of goods and services popped up which ate away the covid-19 funds.
For example, $400 for one pillow and $130 for one blanket, provided to the national referral hospital (NRH), seen in an invoice of $99,500 dated May 25, 2020.
Documents were missing, which would have provided information to prove that public funds were well spent.
Mataki said it’s a fair report that point areas and certain gaps they have need to address.
However, he said a lot of procurement and management in place, they are conducive for normal type of situation they have.
“When comes to emergency, sometimes bit difficult.
“I do not want to say that those areas we don’t follow process, I think the situation cause this. If you are to have a flight, ensure to get quarantine station up and running for people go inside,” he said.
Mataki said if suppliers have not been paid, what do you do in that kind of situation?
“We have come to breach.
“We have to deal with suppliers willing to provide goods and suppliers upfront on credit,” he added.
Furthermore, the audit report found NDMO has purchased two brand new expensive vehicles using the covid-19 fund were not relevant to the purpose of the fund.
“One significant procurement appeared to be unrelated to the pandemic. The NDMO chose to supplement its vehicle fleet with the addition of two new Toyota vehicles at a cost of $677,500.”
However, Mataki said there is a need to run emergency and need for logistic capability.
He said the audit report speaks for itself but they try their best to comply with Public Finance and Management Act and Financial Instructions.
Mataki said timeliness is also an issue in emergency.
“But we are definitely committed to address the gaps and review the process and ensure to repeat that,” he said.
Apart from this, Deputy Commissioner National Security and Operation Support Ian Vaevaso said police is willing to assess the audit report.
He said police can do follow up on the report if there are criminal elements in it.
Therefore, Vaevaso said if the Auditor General sees it fit to come to them, then they are willing to investigate and take it up for further.