The Minister of Finance Crossley Tatui says that the allegations of the government being charged for catering and meal expenses of some senior public servants is alarming and that he has ordered a full investigation with the Internal Auditor to find out if these allegations are true or not.
Last week, BCN News was approached by a source saying that there are a few senior public servants who are ordering their food and drinks from a number of cafes and restaurants on the island and charged to the government or project accounts.
The individual told the BCN news reporter that the private sector workers are struggling to survive now with the reduction of the wage subsidies and yet there are senior public servants charging their meals to the government. The person did not divulge which cafes or restaurants the meals were charged at.
Two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance had spoken of the need for strict fiscal policy discipline required across all levels of government as they begin working on the budget for the new financial year.
BCN news contacted the Minister of Finance Crossley Tatui, the Public Service Commission and the Secretary to Government with questions earlier this week.
The Minister says that while this is an alarming allegation, he is not surprised given the laxity of internal control and lack of internal audits but that they need “ to do everything possible to address some of these issues including lack of good governance, transparency and accountability principles and the decimated compliant values in the public service.”
Minister Tatui says that this was the first he had heard of the allegations that some senior public servants are enjoying meals at the expense of the government.
BCN news understands that all payments made by the government must have a purchase order number which can only be issued by the Treasury department. A strict requirement of the treasury department is that all invoices for government payment must be accompanied by a purchase order number, so it will not be difficult to determine what the purchase order was for.
The Public Service Commission and the Secretary to Government have yet to respond to the questions from BCN news.