The Northern Islands Stevedoring Company Limited (NISCOL) million dollar Wharf Project loan from the Exim Bank is the biggest uncertainty of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
, after a number of allegations of irregularities revealed yesterday by the NISCOL accountant with the Technical Advisor after being summoned by PAC.
The Management of NISCOL could not provide financial documents for the past years as the Company lost all substantial documents in a fire incident at the beginning of this year. A report which was presented to the PAC Team yesterday covered only the period beginning March this year. During yesterday’s session with NISCOL, Member of Parliament for Santo Rural, Marco Mahe, raised issues pertaining to the release of a Vt61 machinery from the NISCOL Storage as agreed by Shareholders through minutes which was available in the document presented by the Company.
According to the document, the Shareholders agreed that the Interim CEO in office at that time pursue the matter with the Customs Department to find a way to offset the amount outstanding with fees and VAT that NISCOL owes.
It is alleged a current Member of Parliament owns the machinery.
Other issues raised were the outstanding NISCOL VAT, Wharfage and Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) that the Company is trying to improve on at the moment.
The termination of the Accountant was also raised at the meeting but given that the case is now in court pending a hearing, the meeting resolved to keep Mr. Chand in the country until his case is resolved.
The Technical Advisor told the PAC that a new Accountant will start work next week.
It is alleged the new Accountant is a former VNPF officer. While the position was advertised some months ago PAC questions the recruitment of the Accountant whether it was done through proper procedures.
Another allegation raised was the dividend that was paid sometime in April this year. The Accountant Mr. Chand could not respond to the matter saying the Dividend was paid following instruction.
He said NISCOL Articles of Association clearly stated that only the dividend can be paid at the end of a successful financial year.
The Daily Post understands the Dividend paid was only an interim share paid to the shareholders.
MP Mahe questions Mr. Chand and Ala on the purchase of Laptops and Printers allegedly for the Shareholders while being Board of Directors at the same time. All these benefits were approved in minutes as provided in the document by the NISCOL management yesterday.
Many of the allegations could not be answered yesterday as only the Board of Directors and CEO are the appropriate people to answer.
With all these issues Member of Parliament (MP) for Tanna, Bob Loughman, questions the future of the company if the company can be transparent to be profitable to meet the loan agreement.
The Technical Advisor to the Company Mr. Hollingsworth Ala Ngwele told the PAC that the management has developed a new strategic plan and they are trying to implement the new idea in the company.
The new CEO of the Company was not present when PAC inquired aboutthe Company’s fund spending yesterday. The PAC questions the absence of the company’s CEO saying that the inquiry is important for the continuity of this entity and that as CEO of this institution he should make it a point of being present for this important meeting. However, Mr. Ngwele informed the meeting that arrangements were made earlier to the Board before they were aware of this trip.
PAC ended their trip yesterday in Luganville with the NISCOL inquiry. The Daily Post is aware after looking through the reports presented PAC will call for responsible people for summoning if any irregularities emerged.