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Labour ministry breaches financial guidelines

Published:Thursday | May 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Monroe Ellis

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

WEAK INTERNAL control over the payment process at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has been identified by the Auditor General's Department.

The department found that, contrary to financial instructions, five payment vouchers with transactions totalling $102.5 million, were not cancelled or stamped 'paid' to prevent reuse.

Additionally, the auditor general found that four payments totalling $1.7 million were not supported with the requisite supporting documents.

It was also found that, contrary to the law, the responsible officers did not affix their signatures to respective payment vouchers and journals to indicate that 10 transactions amounting to $555 million were certified and authorised.

"The authenticity of the payments could not be guaranteed in the absence of the authorising signature," the auditor general report said.

The report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives, said auditor general Pamela Monroe Ellis was unable to determine how the ministry satisfied itself that goods and services relating to five payments, totalling $1.9 million, were received in satisfactory condition, as the requisite certification to attest to this was not affixed to the supporting documents or payment vouchers.

"Absence of the certificate could facilitate abuse and irregularities," the report said.

Monroe Ellis has recommended that the ministry strengthen the system of internal checks over the payment process, to ensure that all payments conform to the requisite guidelines, to prevent future breaches.

Audit verification

She also said the original suppliers' invoices should be submitted for audit verification, and management should ensure that there is proper certification that goods/services have been received to comply with the guidelines.

In the meantime, Monroe Ellis found that the ministry did not record in the inventory records items of furniture and equipment costing $2.6 million, which were acquired during the period under review. "These weaknesses not only undermine the accountability procedures for the ministry's assets, but expose them to unauthorised use and misappropriations," the report said.

The ministry had spent $21.8 million for servicing and repairs to furniture and equipment during the period under review, but did not maintain the requisite office machines and equipment record, which provides a history of repairs and servicing to office machines and equipment, to reflect this expenditure.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com