BY ALEX DADAMU
AUDIT Reports done by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on three Government Ministries have found multiple non-compliances to relevant procurement laws of the Solomon Islands Government.
The audit reports are for the period of 1st April to 31st December 2020 and were on procurement relating to the Covid-19 Disaster Relief Fund or related procurement in a state of public emergency.
The ministries being audited are,
– The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS)
– Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID)
– National Disaster Management Office through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM)
According to the Audit reports, the three ministries spent over $90 million on goods, services, and works to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the audit reports noted that the common themes across all three ministries include a lack of transparency and required documentation, including the inability to provide the OAG with full documentation of review transactions.
“This indicates a major failure of accountability and all three ministries need to address it.
“There are also areas which noncompliance, potential fraud and lack of accountability could together impact the efficient emergency procurement to deliver required and effective services expected during a crisis situation,” the report highlighted.
The common series of problematic procurement practices noted across all three ministries in the thematic audit report include,
– Guidance on the risks associated with non-competitive procurement is needed
– The bid waiver process was not effectively managed
– In the absence of a tender process some key controls were side-lined
– Conflict-of-interest declarations were not required
– Detailed specifications were generally not prepared
– Businesses that were not registered were awarded contracts
– Provision of approvals after the procurement is completed
– Use of Imprest Accounts
– Appropriation management
– Lack of Transparency
– Variable Documentation
– Lack of inclusiveness
The OAG is one of the key accountability institutions established under the Solomon Islands Constitution which requires the Auditor General to audit and report on the public accounts of the Solomon Islands, including all Ministries, offices, special funds, courts, and authorities of the Government, and of the government of Honiara City and all provincial governments.
“The objectives of these audits were to assess whether these agencies managed COVID-19 Procurement under relevant laws, policies, and regulations of the Solomon Islands Government. These include the Public Financial Management Act 2013, the Interim Financial Instructions currently in force, and the Solomon Islands Government Procurement and Contract Manual [PCAM].
“Funds for COVID-19 related expenditure were appropriated to the disaster relief account in each agency. The scope of the audit included all expenditure from the disaster relief account for the 2020 calendar year,” the Thematic Audit Report by the Office of the Auditor General highlighted.