VANUATU GOVERNMENT WORKERS PAY THEMSELVES

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By Evelyn Toa

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Vila Presse, Mar. 28) - It has been alleged that staff members from the Vanuatu Finance Department have paid themselves allowances that were not approved by their superiors.

This information has been circulated to bring a bit more light to what happened last month when an incident occurred between the Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry, Jeffrey Wilfred, and a female staff member of the department.

An article carried by the Daily Post said that the Department of Finance staff does not claim overtime allowances or compensation for extra hours worked every day and weekends.

Some of the Finance Department staff opposed the statement and said that the source that supplied this information is not a staff member of the Department of Finance and does not know what's going on in the Department.

Our various informants say Finance is one of the government departments that claims more overtime allowances than other government departments. Some of the allowances raise more questions than answers. Besides claiming overtime allowances, government provides food (take-away) and drinks for staff who work during weekends.

"In one instance, some satff members paid themselves Christmas bonuses for processing political gratuities, which is part of their jobs anyway. And just recently a senior female staff member paid herself subsistence allowance for going on a private overseas trip despite knowing the government's financial constraints.

"The problem currently affecting the Department of Finance that needs more attention from the Public Service Commission, is that there are a lot of unqualified staff acting in senior and managerial positions for too long.

"Unless qualified people are recruited to fill those senior and managerial positions, the Department of Finance staff will continue to face same problems. It was also surprising that some staff of the Department of Finance, have not followed proper procedures required by the public service staff manual, but take the short cut in solving their problems, especially in writting letters directly to the Prime Minister Office, regarding the assault incident".

Comments from the Public Service Department confirm that under the Public Service policy, government officers are not allowed to claim overtime anymore, except when approved and certified by the manager, supervisor or DG.

"The decision for overtime allowance payments is now under the responsiblity of each governement department head to control; and any overtime paid without a proper approval, will be a mis-use of public funds", the Public Service pointed out.

In regard to subsistence allowances, the staff are allowed a night allowance pay only on government overseas sponsored meetings or courses, to be approved by their superior in collaboration with the Prime Minister's Office.

The Public Service Department wishes also to advise that each government department has to advertise vacant posts within their department, very important for senior and managerial positions.

April 1, 2004

Port Vila Presse: www.news.vu/en/

 

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