By EDDIE OSIFELO
A Prime Minister has a power to prohibit Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) from broadcasting or televising any matter, or matter of any class or character unless it is based on national interest.
Or the Prime Minister may request the Corporation to refrain from broadcasting any such matter.
This is stipulated in Section 24 of the Broadcasting Act Cap 122.
Unlike the State-Owned Enterprise Act 2007 and SOE Regulation 2010 which SIBC was omitted from by Cabinet recently, the Prime Minister has no power to do that.
Furthermore, under the SOE Regulation 2010, the SIBC Board has a term of 3 years or less term.
However, under the Broadcasting Act CAP 122, Corporation Board will have a term not exceeding 5 years.
Further to that, SIBC benefited from Community Service Obligation, where the Accountable Minister may submit a proposal which describe the nature and scope of the CSO.
SIBC must meet within 10 working days, give to the Accountable Minister an estimate of the cost of SOE of providing CSO obligation.
Under the Broadcasting Act CAP 122, SIBC will now borrow money by issue of debentures or debenture stock.
A debenture is a type of debt instrument that is not backed by any collateral and usually has a term greater than 10 years.
The debenture is to assist the Corporation for:
- the provision of working capital;
- for performing the functions of the Corporation under this Act;
- the acquisition of undertakings;
- any other expenditure properly chargeable to capital account; and
- any other purpose whatsoever which the Minister of Finance after consultation with the Cabinet may by notice specify.
The Corporation may borrow by way of temporary loan or overdraft such sums of money as it deems fit not exceeding an amount approved by the Minister of Finance.
The revenue receive from broadcasting of advertisements and message shall not be liable to income tax.
The Corporation to receive annual subsidy from the Government.
Acting Chairman of SIBC, Dr William Parairato said his Board is expected to meet with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare when he returns from Fiji next week.
Sogavare led a delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji.
The Government omitted SIBC as a SOE, claiming it is not making any profits as required under the SOE Act 2007.
Office of the Auditor General of Solomon Islands highlights some issues for the SIBC Management to address in its audit report on SOE and Statutory Authorities 2019.
This relating to employees’ contracts not updated, employees’ resignations, receivables and trade debtors.
Audit selected 11 samples of employees from pay periods five and perform test on their fortnightly salaries.
Audit noted that nine employees’ basic salaries were not matched to their employment contracts with a difference of $43,887 in total.
SIBC could be paying employees at an unapproved rate which could potentially lead to fraud and mismanagement of pay rates.
Further to that, audit select three employees who resigned from the Corporation and further test if they followed the resignation processes. Audit was unable to locate copy of their resignation letter in their personal files.
Procedure and processes of resignations may not be followed and SIBC could potentially be paying employees that already resigned.
Furthermore, audit performed an assessment of the provision for doubtful debt and noted that there was no movement in the balances since prior year. According to the finance and administration manager, the assessment for ageing debtors was not performed in 2017 thus the same balances were carried forward to 2018.
OAG further noted that the Corporation under provided for bad and doubtful debts.
This is due to yearly (180 days) provision provided by SIBC.
Therefore, debtors with less than 90 days ageing have not been considered for provision as the corporation believes these will be recovered during the year. Without timely assessment of ageing debtors indicates poor management over debt collection and therefore increases the risk of financial loss.
Moreover, audit noted that SIBC needed to strengthen it trade debtors’ recoverability due to an increase from prior year of $1,824,205 to $2,171,340 this year. A Total of $347,135 was added to last year’s amount.
These are potential money that SIBC needs to meet its current obligations during limited cash flow. This could also lead to bad debts not being aggressively collected.