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Public officers not repaying loans


Wade Gibbons

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SEVERAL PUBLIC OFFICERS are using taxpayers’ money to purchase cars and pay for insurance, and are refusing to repay their loans.
Auditor General Leigh Trotman stated in his report for 2010 that the Public Officers Loan & Travel Allowance (POLTA) account, which comprises mainly vehicle and insurance loans to public officers, carried a balance of more than $21 million in the general ledger.
He noted that the subsidiary records presented for audit were not reconciled with the general ledger and therefore the accuracy of the amount in the general ledger could not be verified.
“Some accounts with outstanding balances had no activity [repayments] in recent months, while others had no activity from the inception of the loans,” he indicated, adding those accounts totalled $248 131.71. Trotman suggested that if the loans could not be recovered, appropriate action needed to be taken to have the uncollectable money written off.
He also revealed that during the past year public officers received more than $1 million in salaries and wages to which they were not entitled. He however added that because of insufficient monitoring an accurate indication of the amount could not be ascertained.
“A sub-ledger for overdrawn salaries is not in place. Such a ledger would allow for proper monitoring of these accounts, and verification of the summary amount. In the absence of such documentation it was not possible to verify the amount for overdrawn salaries in the financial statements,” he said.
Trotman noted his office had made several requests to ministries and departments to provide the Treasury with overdrawn salaries information in order to develop a sub-ledger but the response had not been adequate.
He also emphasized the need for Government to do something about staffing shortages at his office.
Trotman said the Audit Office had a staff complement of 77 people, but 33 posts were not occupied. He said part of the problem was the slow recruitment process.
He added that the shortfall in staffing was affecting the ability of his office to function properly and also expensing the state when his department was forced to seek assistance from the private sector.
A major concern derived from tapping resources in the private sector, he explained, was that a Government audit office should not be overly controlled by entities it had to audit. 

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