The Director of Audit’s report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010 has revealed several financial irregularities in the management of the Post Hurricane Omar Relief and Assistance to Fishers Programme.
According to the report, which Director of Audit Clarence Christian submitted to Finance Minister Roosevelt Skerrit last month, the Ministry of Fisheries did not establish a proper monitoring mechanism to provide the necessary oversight on the execution and performance of the program.
Christian also notes in the report that the Chief Fisheries Officer asked some fisher folk for part payment to the agents for the engines they received in order to assist other affected fisher folk who had no claims. However he says this was not documented in the policy directives given for the execution of the program.
“There was no inventory register kept or maintained of the fishing equipment and gear received from suppliers and distributed to the fisher folk”. He declared.
The Director of Audit says it appears that the Chief Fisheries Officer may have used his office to procure fishing boats from Columbia for individuals as part of an order made by government. He says of interest to his office is the fact that 5 of the 28 new fiber glass boats issued to and registered in the name of local individuals, were registered in the personal name of Andrew Magloire as owner and co-owner of these boats.
He noted in his report that the boats were given by the Chief Fisheries Officer without the approval of the Permanent Secretary and some of the individuals who received boats were not listed as having suffered loss from the hurricane.
Christian has made several recommendations to government, asking that they ensure that the Chief Fisheries Officer provide information on the additional 10 fiber glass boats which he claimed to have privately ordered for individuals through the Hurricane Omar Relief Program.
“That information should include the total amount of paid for the boats, the appropriate fees and charges paid at the Customs Division and more importantly, the method of payment with the necessary evidence”, Christian said.
Christian said it is also evident that financial regulations were not complied with in the receipts and issues of equipment, stores and fishing gear under the program.
“The Chief Fisheries Officer did not at all times adhere to the policy directives and guidelines established in the program.
The Audit Director is also concerned that for a program of such magnitude, the ministry of fisheries, more particularly the accounting officer provided very little or no supervision during its execution.
When contacted by DNO Chief Fisheries Officer, Andrew Magloire, would not comment on the specific accusations made against him in the report but said that everything he has done has been geared to facilitating the recovery of the fishing sector.
“That means having to deal with the facilitation of individuals to restore their livelihoods. So, I did everything that I could possibly do within the framework of my authority as Chief Fisheries Officer” he said.
He says the fact that the report appears to portray the Chief Fisheries Officer as misusing the authority bestowed upon him is “a disservice to the organization.”
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