MOCD career ends in disgrace

Friday June 10, 2016 Written by Published in Politics

A TRUSTED senior employee given the responsibility of handling the finances of a government ministry has ended her career with the Ministry of Cultural Development in disgrace.

 

The woman was the Finance and Administration manager at MOCD. Her conduct was described as unethical in the just-released Audit Office report which also cautioned the ministry to reconsider her continued employment.

The woman was suspended on full pay in mid-April after Audit completed its investigation and released its 18-page report to relevant agencies. It was tabled in Parliament this week. CI News understands the finance manager’s employment was terminated in May.

The Audit report revealed that the former manager hired her sister from July 1 - August 3 and paid her $3,000. There was no written contract. According to the ex-manager, former ministry HOM Sonny Williams had given verbal approval for her sister to be contracted by the ministry.

Williams told Audit that he understood the sister was hired mainly to print out ID cards for all workers engaged during the TMN 2015 as she was familiar with the use of the machine the ministry had bought for the purpose.

The former manager told Audit that the pay scale had been determined by Williams. Williams, on the other hand, informed Audit he couldn’t remember how the amount paid to the sister had been decided. The payment voucher was signed off by Williams and the former manager.

Audit stated that the sum paid for the amount of work done was unjustified “…considering the fact that MOCD already has qualified staff to carry out most of the tasks she was engaged to do.”

The Audit report raises further questions regarding $15,300 paid by MOCD to a female contractor for a “signage project.”

The contractor was expected to produce Te Maeva Nui 2015 signs, “e-blasts” (email news flashes), souvenir posters and oversee the production of the TMN 2015 official souvenir programme.

A contractual agreement was signed on December 24, 2014 and a total sum of $17,000 was agreed upon for the provision of these services. The agreed amount was to be paid to the contractor in 10 instalments of $1,700 each.

The full amount was not paid to the contractor as she and Williams had agreed that tasks for the month of August and September weren’t needed. The contractor should have been paid $13,600 for work done but was overpaid $1,700 by the MOCD. Audit said this occurred due to the lack of proper monitoring of POBOC payments by the ministry.

The delivery of the agreed products is being questioned as the MOCD did not market specific TMN 2015 signs, nor did any of the local media receive any e-blasts. CI News understands that TMN 2015 souvenir posters and a souvenir programme also weren’t produced.

It appears Audit did not undertake any checks to determine whether any of the products the contractor was paid to provide were actually delivered. The identity of the contractor also seems to be a secret and Audit would not reveal it at the time of going to print. CI News has been told that during his tenure as HOM, Williams kept valuable TMN 2015 contracts confidential between himself and the former finance manager.

Questions are being asked over the eight invoices presented by the contractor for work that was never completed and whether this should be a matter that PERC should review, as it involves public money.           

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