A CONCERNED Honiara citizen has questioned why it has taken the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Christopher Laore so long to respond to the final auditor’s report regarding the Honiara City Council’s (HCC) financial status.
Kennedy Evans who resides at Lengakiki, East Honiara said that as someone who follows the issue closely, he knows the report has already been completed and submitted to the minister a few months ago.
“The fact that he is yet to respond brings to question the Minister’s take on the issue,” he said.
Evans said that according to the spot on the audit’s final report, there are a number of expenditures discovered to be in contravention to the financial instructions of the institution.
He said some of the issues require immediate terminations and or legal lawsuits against officers’ concerns.
“One of the issues sighted was the poor procurement practices as a result of a lack of council policy, procedures, or guidelines on procurement.
“The report shows lack of insufficient planning undertaken to ensure specifications of the goods/services sought and the financial viability of the procurement,” he said.
Evans said the report also found that the process in place to monitor the issue and retirement of grant funding is not robust.
He said the report highlighted better documentation should be provided to support grant applications and then subsequently to support the retirement process.
He said since it was a very serious matter, the Auditor General in the report has recommended that this be referred to the relevant authorities for further investigation.
Other areas sighted by this paper through the report include the need to review the Honiara Town Council (Ward Development Fund) regulation 1997 to ensure that the allocation of ward grants remain appropriate.
In terms of budget management, the audit testing confirmed that the 2020 budget was approved by the Minister of Home Affairs.
The report pointed out lack of control within the council is significant and immediate action is required to rectify this.
HCC in its response only highlights 9 steps of the procurement processes it takes effect as of July 2020 without commenting on the specific allegations.
The spot on audit for HCC mainly covers transactions and records specifically on procurements, loan arrangements, market lock-up shops, ward development grants, and budget management.
The Auditor Generals’ overall findings show there are poor and non-performance within the Council and that some of these matters identified were significant and therefore recommended for further investigation and necessary action by appropriate authorities.
When asked several times through his Permanent Secretary on this matter for his response, the Minister and his PS failed to respond.
Several emails and calls were also made to arrange for an interview through the EPS but to no avail.
However, comments will still be sought from the minister.
By IAN M.KAUKUI