TIGHT-LIPPED SAMOA AGENCY RAISES QUESTIONS

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Ports authority late in submitting annual reports

By Jasmine Netzler-Iose APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 1, 2010) - The annual reports of the Samoa Ports Authority (SPA) are with the Audit Office, the Minister in charge said yesterday.

It was the first time Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, addressed the issue since questions about the reports were sent to him by the Samoa Observer on 31 March.

The questions sought to ascertain when SPA last submitted its annual reports to Parliament.

Unconfirmed reports said the last annual report outlining the authority’s activities was tabled for the 2006 financial year.

Yesterday, the Minister told the Weekend Observer the accounts with the Audit Office are for the 2008 and 2009 financial year.

"They are being audited," he said.

The Minister was reluctant to elaborate on questions over why the reports are late. For example, according to the Ports Authority Act, statement of accounts and an annual report are to be submitted to the Minister no later than 90 days after the financial year.

"When it has been tabled, then you will get a copy," he said.

Asked about the 2007 and 2008 financial years, he said: "We are working on it."

The Minister declined to comment on reports SPA was struggling financially.

"I don’t know, I cannot remember the figures but the annual reports for 2008 and 2009 are being audited and then once it’s audited (we’ll table it in Parliament)," he said.

He said when he followed up with the Audit Office last week; he was told the "audit work was still underway."

Controller and Chief Auditor, Tamaseu Leni Warren confirmed the annual reports were being audited by his office.

He was, however, unsure of the dates and when they were submitted.

For all public bodies, Tamaseu explained normal procedures dictate annual reports must be submitted within four months of balance date.

"But I cannot remember when the reports (from SPA) were submitted," he said. "Yes, the minister is right. The reports are here and they are being audited."

Once the audit is completed, they will be submitted to Parliament to be tabled.

"It cannot be released to anyone but Parliament and until Parliament has tabled it, no one can see it," he said.

"That’s all I can tell you because I cannot release any other information."

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