7 Nov 2005

Solomon Islands auditor-general points finger at department of forestry over losses

4:19 pm on 7 November 2005

The Solomon Islands Auditor General, Floyd Augustine Fatai, says the Department of Forestry has a problem with financial mismanagement that needs to be addressed.

Mr Fatai has just released a report of a special audit of the Department which found the government lost an estimated 4.25 million US dollars in revenue by granting timber duty exemptions last year.

The audit reports says that a lack of proper forestry and accounting records indicates huge arrears in timber royalty payments.

While Mr Fatai admits the Department has been under-resourced at times and has been losing essential staff, he doesn't think this should be an excuse.

"Even then, the permanent secretary or the chief executive officer for the department should justify in these reform programmes in order to maintain this essential staff whose job it is to ensure that companies comply with the agreements."

Mr Fatai says the legal framework around the exemptions lacks clarity and should be reviewed.