The Public Service Commission has confirmed the appointment of former member of parliament for Mutalau Maureen Melekitama as the government’s Internal Auditor.
Maureen Melekitama was elected into parliament in 2017 and chaired the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) until May this year. Prior to her election as a member of parliament she worked at the Tax office.
The appointment made official on September 21st has raised questions about the process of the Public Service Commission in making the appointment.
Common Roll member Hon. Terry Coe told BCN News that this position like all public service positions should have been advertised and to allow all qualified candidates to apply.
In a statement responding to questions from BCN news, the Commission said “As you are aware Niue is facing a 5.2 million deficit situation. The elected Government is reviewing all government operations and processes for finance and administration pursuant to the Constitution and Public Revenues Act. Under Article 69 of the Niue Constitution an appointment of an internal auditor was needed to help support the annual government audits and this has now been completed”.
The Commission said that they were following article 18 of the constitution which provides for any public servant to take a leave of absence when elected into parliament.
However, neither the constitution nor the Public Service Regulations 2004 is explicit in the process of the Commission when re-employing a public servant back after an unsuccessful re-election.
BCN news sources who wish to remain anonymous says that the Commission did not follow due process in the recruitment of employees into the public service with this appointment. There are also questions raised as to the qualification requirements for the role of Internal Auditor given the level of scrutiny the Niue government faced last year with a damning report from Audit New Zealand about the status of the Niue government accounts.
Questions were also raised as to the salary of the Internal Auditor which is comparatively higher than what the former MP’s original salary was before entering politics in 2017. Mrs Melekitama was also a Member assisting a Minister in the last government and was paid an annual salary of $45,095.00
Veteran politician Terry Coe, the people need to know what the salary range is for this position of Internal Auditor.
BCN news requested information on the salary range from the Commission but have yet to hear back.