The National – Friday, February 11, 2011
By JAYSON GIMA WURI and FREDDY MOU
THE Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) secretary Dr Wari Iamo has condemned an email circulation that was leaked out this week regarding the second report from Deloitte, an international consultancy firm.
The report alleged that DEC had misused donor funds deposited into its biodiversity trust fund and compliance with procedures was “at a very low level”.
The report further claimed that 73% of the spending from the trust fund in 2008, the year of its audit, was for “unauthorised purposes”.
It said K223,000 from the biodiversity trust fund, used for advances to DEC staff in 2007 and 2008, was completely unaccounted for (including K9,000 for overseas travel).
The report also stated that no bank reconciliations for the Biodiversity Trust Fund had been done for the previous seven months and all the reconciliations for the previous year, used incorrect opening balances.
“There were no monthly reports made by DEC to the Department of Finance on any DEC trust accounts, despite it being a statutory requirement,” stated the report circulating through emails.
However, Iamo said that he commissioned the report in 2008 as a component of the institutional reform process developed through the DEC new strategic directions.
“The report was not done as a requirement of any donor or government initiative, it was an internal report.”
He said the purpose of the report was to determine whether financial management systems within the department needed to be improved.
Iamo said he was managing the transition of the department to a statutory authority which would allow the development of competitive remuneration and the recruitment of suitably qualified persons to the finance area.
Meanwhile, Bulolo MP Sam Basil described the department as untrusted and called on Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to sack Minister for Environment and Conservation Benny Allan and the secretary following the report.
“The recent visit and statements made by the minister and his secretary after visiting Hidden Valley has proven to us that their position has been compromised; so if they can be branded as untrustworthy and irresponsible by a reputable accounting firm, then it is to the best interest of all Papua New Guineans that they be sacked immediately by the prime minister without delay,” Basil said.
Community-based advocacy group ACT NOW! had also called on Allan to investigate claims of financial mismanagement and misuse of trust funds as stated in the Deloitte report in his department.
“The minister needs to tell the people of Papua New Guinea what he is doing about these serious allegations,” ACT NOW! programme manager Efferey Dademo said.
“The government is calling on the international community to give billions of kina for deforestation measures, yet the evidence suggests DEC cannot be trusted with donor funds.”