Finance secretary in the clear

National, Normal

FINANCE secretary Gabriel Yer is the only senior finance officer who has been exonerated by the Public Accounts Committee in its inquiry into the operations of the Sepik Highway and Bridges Maintenance and Other Infrastructure Trust Account.
The committee said in its report to Parliament: “Mr Yer, as the newly appointed secretary for Finance, had accepted responsibility to deal with the failings of the trustees as best as he now can and the committee commends his stated attitude.”
And elsewhere: “The committee accepted that John Alman (a former trustee) and Mr Yer were truthful when they stated to the committee that they had searched diligently for documents, but were able to find virtually no records at all.
“Accordingly, no referral will be made for the inability to produce documents.”
Mr Alman was severely criticised in the report for his part as a trustee and indeed, he stands referred by the committee.
Mr Yer was commended by the committee for providing a written response to queries and for his efforts to cooperate with the committee.
Similarly, former chief secretary Josuah Kalinoe was only mentioned in the report as explaining his role as a signatory to the trust which he was invited to be but which the committee discovered he should not have been.
Many other individuals who, as trustees or officials, had any part in the operation of this trust fund were referred for further investigation and possible prosecution by lawful authorities in the PAC’s report to Parliament.
The referrals included companies which were paid out of the trust fund between 2001 and 2006.
The PAC report, which The National is currently publishing, revealed alarming levels of mismanagement, neglect, circumvention of laws and abuse of process and procedures.
Of some K30 million which moved through the trust fund, only K7 million was traceable.