ToVaira: We will stop graft

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 24th January 2012

ACTING Defence Secretary Sebulon ToVaira has vowed to rid the organisation of corruption, abuse and misconduct.
ToVaira said this after findings by the state-sanctioned independent investigation committee revealed that the force was crippled with debts and had lost millions of kina through an insolvent company, plus dubious payments to civilian staff.
“I do not deny the misapplication of funds in the past nine years. The past nine years were spoiled by one or two bad people,” he said.
“As long as Sebulon ToVaira is here this organisation will be run properly. I have a zero-tolerance policy on corruption.”
He said what was reported in the media about the defence force was just the tip of the iceberg.
“It will need a Commission of Inquiry to fully unravel all the rot.”
He said the department would not entertain any claims from contractors.
He said under the previous administration defence had incurred a debt of almost K100 million to contractors, around K4 million of which was for hiring of vehicles and machinery.
ToVaira, who was appointed on Sept 29, said he had taken proactive measures to reduce corruption and abuse.
He said some of the actions were decentralising financial powers to the unit commanders; strengthening the internal auditing unit; taking stock and control of the public investment programme  under the  force; sidelining officers guilty of misconduct; and establishing dialogue between the office of the commander and the secretary.
He said no more absenteeism and false claims would be entertained by his administration.
He said he had clarified the role of the operational and administrative arms of the force and how they functioned.
ToVaira admitted that bills for water, electricity, telephone and others were high but said the K80m-K90 they received annually was insufficient for the defence force.
He said he did not feel it appropriate for the financial powers to be transferred from the secretary to the commander.
He said that would mean making amendments to the Constitution and the Finance Management Act.