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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 20, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---The Copra Marketing Board lost more than K 5 million (US$ 1.67 million) for the second quarter of this year.

A statement of expenses obtained by the Post-Courier revealed spending from the first quarter (January to March), then to the second quarter ending June 30.

Notable expenses were in the areas of stock (copra) revaluation, stock transfers, stevedoring, advertising, consultancy expenses, entertainment, legal expenses, overseas travel security expenses and staff training costs.

According to documents which originated from the CMB, and which were to be presented at the board meeting now under way in Madang, the spending had contributed greatly to burden the checks and balances to show a loss of K 5.324 million (about US$1,778,2176), enough to warrant insolvency.

CMB executives and board chairman Jerry Nalau could not be contacted in Port Moresby or Madang to verify the data or confirm the situation.

Small Copra Producers president Henry Lote, who was asked to comment on the documents, said the accounts showed a revaluation of copra stocks of K 4.56 million (US$1,523,040). A devaluation of the stocks at this amount had been added to the cost of copra purchases.

"Overall, the accounts are evidence of excessive expenditure in many areas," Mr. Lote said. "This is at the expense of copra growers who deserve a fair go."

Given that CMB checks have been dishonored and the stated loss shown in the documents to hand, we ask, is the Copra Marketing Board insolvent?

According to the statement, an item appears under "cost of sales" as shrinkage (weight loss) of K 3.686 million (US$1.231,124), which is 5.6 percent of total purchases. Lote said that this was an unacceptable level of write-off.

"If there is no shrinkage allowance on local sales, the percentage of write-off would be almost double," he said.

"The two items above are seen as an attempt to confuse the real financial state of the Copra Marketing Board," he said. "Board members expenses for the six months were 64 percent over budget."

Overseas travel for management cost the board K 77,735 (about US$ 25,964) while consultancy expenses were K 359,822 (about US$ 120,181) and branch inspections K 92,475 (about US$ 30,887).

Mr. Lote questioned whom the consultancy fees were paid to and for what, and also the high figures regarding inspections, apparently inferring that there were too many unnecessary inspections.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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