5 May 2020

Niue watchdog committee addresses damning audit

11:10 am on 5 May 2020

Niue's Public Accounts Committee says a damning audit report is a continuation of ongoing financial issues in the country

Fale fono, Niue

Fale fono, Niue Photo: RNZ/ Sally Round

At its final session before this month's election, the Niue Fono briefly heard from the committee on an audit report produced by New Zealand's Auditor General, John Ryan.

The report showed poor financial record-keeping, misused donor funds, and a budget blow-out for the 2015 year. Documents for the subsequent years were not available for assessment by Mr Ryan's office.

The Public Accounts Committee made brief comments, saying "year in year out it is the same ongoing issues that are being reported with no recognisable efforts in order to address it."

It went on to say "there is a duty of care and responsibility on the Minister of Finance and Treasury to address these ongoing issues."

MP Terry Coe said the committee was also at fault as it hasn't had meetings throughout the year.

"My thing is they should meet every month."

BCN reported another Opposition MP O'Love Jacobsen saying parliament was also complicit in not monitoring the government and how it spent the country's money.

Mr Coe said the government had made no effort to fix the problems.

"It's pathetic. They haven't put down any likelihood of fixing the problem, just saying, it happens all the time and all that.

"You can't do anything about it but they can fix a lot of it up. The over-expenditure, all you have got to do is put in a supplementary budget, but they are not even doing that, a simple thing like that."

Mr Coe was also highly critical of the delay in the government releasing the audit report which came to Parliament in March despite it being received last December.

He said the promise by Premier Sir Toke Talagi to have the documents available for audits of the years 2016 to 2019 was also likely to come to nothing.

"They can't do it without the documents from the departments and SOEs and they have lost it or mislaid it or the computer is broken. You know, every excuse under the sun," Mr Coe said.