Auditor Find ‘Massive Corruption’ In Bougainville Bureaucracy

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Auditor Find ‘Massive Corruption’ In Bougainville Bureaucracy President Momis agrees public servants are ‘law unto themselves’

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, September 2, 2013) – Massive corruption among the bureaucracy on Bougainville is the order of the day as it pushes for full autonomy and possible independence, according to deputy auditor-general, Peter Siparau.

He told the ‘Sustainability of Bougainville’ seminar last Friday that public servants on Bougainville were a law unto themselves, who were seemingly answerable to no one, including the governments of Bougainville and PNG.

President John Momis, concurred with Siparau, saying the audacity and arrogance of some public servants there defied imagination.

Siparau said things were totally out of control from 2006-2010, when millions of kina were stolen through outright fraud and corruption, with "disclaimer audit opinions" issued – meaning the auditor-general was unable to rely on accounts and records of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) for the years ended Dec 31, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Siparau, a Bougainvillean who has been auditing ABG since 1997, said in 2010 alone, unacquitted amounts totalling K7.391 million were paid for travelling allowances, hire cars, and peace process reconciliation.

Serious audit issues include revenue collection, no registers kept for liquor outlets, no registers kept for motor vehicle registration, no registers kept for driver licences, and no segregation of duties with the same person collecting and banking monies.

Vehicle hired from private sources totalling K2.275 million were not specified or indicated, payments were not properly approved by appropriate financial delegates, segregation of duties by officers was not done, personnel reimbursements were paid to officers but no approvals sighted, no quotations for purchases, and payments were charged to wrong votes – contravening the appropriation act.

No tenders were called for and even if they were, there was no prequalification with tenders given to cronies or associates who then did not complete the job but were paid in full.

Physical stock takes were not carried out to confirm existence and value of assets, assets purchases and disposals were not recorded in the assets register, and assets such as motor vehicles were purchased without any policies in place.

Budgetary reviews were not done and as such lot of incorrect expenditure was charged to incorrect expenditure votes, revenues budgeted for were not collected, and no liaison/co-ordination between the planning office and each division to monitor budgets.

Monies were invested in unlicensed financial institutions, while a disclaimer audit opinion was issued for South Bougainville Engineering for period 1997-2004.

Three trust accounts were maintained with no instruments in place to ensure no fraud and misapplication of monies.

Momis said the bureaucracy and not politicians were in control.

"The treasurer is an appointee of the national government," Momis said.

"I’ve spoken twice to the national government to remove him, and at one stage, he wanted to sue me.

"Under the current delegation situation, ABG has no power to promote, demote, hire and fire public servants who are members of the national public service.

"The only person we can hire or fire is the chief administrator, and we have done that.

"When things didn’t work, we finally decided to remove the chief administrator, not because he is corrupt, but because he allowed things to happen right before him and was not prepared to take action."

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