Pouru urged to restore governance

National, Normal

THE Papua New Guinea Forest Authority (PNGFA) has failed over the years to maintain trust accounts, acquittals, reconciliations and records and managing director Kanawi Pouru has been urged to put his foot down and restore governance and accountability. 
Mr Pouru was summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in its first hearing for 2010, and was urged to ensure improvement in the next 12 months.
This urging follows the grim findings by the Auditor-General’s Office.
As late as 2008, part four of the Auditor-General’s report showed “an authority in a very poor accounting shape”.
The Auditor-General’s findings, amongst others, were that there had been a failure by the authority to: 
* Maintain trust accounts, acquittals, reconciliations and records; 
* Comply with trust accounting procedures set forth in the Public Finances (Management) Act over the years; 
* Comply with the requirements of trust instruments; 
* Not comply with the royalty collection procedures manual relating to furnishing of provincial harvesting and royalty returns to
the head office within
10 days; and 
* Monitor reforestation levy collections prior to 2008.
“The most concerning aspect of this practice is that the authority tolerated it for so long …this is utterly unacceptable,” PAC chairman and Nawaeb MP Timothy Bonga said when presenting the findings.
It was also noted that during the course of the inquiry the authority had said that it was dealing with a backlog of financial statements and bank account balances were not updated in a timely fashion.
Mr Bonga said: “this speaks for itself”.
Apart from the above findings there were numerous others that showed the Public Finances (Management) Act was breached in “many ways” and on a “daily basis”.
Mr Bonga said the authority had “clear problems in its management of and accounting for public monies and monies held as trustees for and on behalf of the State and landowners”.
The PAC said the authority as the custodian of landowners, including taxpayers’ money must be transparent and accountable in its practices to ensure stakeholders, particularly landowners were not ripped.