$7.3 million spent, 32 charters, MID without documentation: OAG Report


MINISTRY of Infrastructure Development could not produce any documentation of a quotation of the 32 ship charters to repatriate people in Honiara to their home provinces during the covid 19 pandemic.

The total cost of the 32 individual voyages was $7.3 million.

The Office of the Auditor General reveals this in its thematic compliance audit report released last week.

Solomon Islands Government Procurement and Contract Manual [PCAM] allows that single ship charters may be done on the basis of a single quotation as an exemption from the normal procurement rules.

However, the audit report found that the Ministry did not appear to have any documentation of a quotation for any of these voyages although MID had sought bid waivers which were approved through the CTB.

“The written waiver approvals were granted by the CTB only long after the Government was already committed to pay the vendors for the voyage.

“All other available procurement documentation was dated after the voyages had occurred,” audit report revealed.

Furthermore, the audit report found that for the vendor who provided the most trips, for expenditure of $2.5 million, neither the Ministry (MID) nor Ministry of Finance and Treasury was able provide any documentation, not even a Payment Voucher.

The audit report states the proclamation of a State of Public Emergency creates a situation where ministries may apply to the CTB for a Bid Waiver.

“The reason for each Bid Waiver request still has to be justified and the granting of such a waiver cannot be taken for granted.

“For a public officer to engage a contractor without competing bids before a bid waiver has been granted is in contravention of the Financial Instructions and according to those Instructions will be ‘dealt with in accordance with the “Non-compliance, Misconduct and Penalties” section of Chapter 1 of the Financial Instructions.’,” audit report states.

As such, the audit report states the failure to document reasons for selecting a single supplier meant that decision-making before work started or goods were delivered was invisible, so one-one may be held accountable for those decisions.

“During testing of transactions OAG also found that not all relevant documentation could be located for all transactions.

“These ranged from the directives from the Oversight Committee which may have prompted the Ministry to initiate some of these procurements, to supporting documentation for some transactions,” audit report states.

Furthermore, audit report states many Bid Waivers were approved by the CTB but only a few of the Bid Waiver submissions were located.

“The quality of documentation to support ship charters was variable.

“Some companies provided copies of ship logs and passenger manifests, others merely provided a one-line invoice,” audit report reveals.

“In one case, a procurement of repatriation charters for $2,455,269.50, the Ministry was not even able to provide a Payment Voucher.

“The original document is missing from MoFT and the Ministry did not have a copy, even an electronic one,” audit report states.

The OAG 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 Ministry managed COVID-19Procurement in accordance with relevant laws, policies and regulations of Solomon Islands Government. These include the Public Financial Management Act 2013, the Interim Financial Instructions currently in force and the Solomon Islands Government Procurement and Contract Manual (PCAM).

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