Public Accounts Committee issues disclaimer on MRF finances

19 Jul 2016 16:20pm
WINDHOEK, 19 JUL (NAMPA) - The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts has issued a disclaimer on the financial statements of the Marine Resource Fund (MRF) because of a lack of supporting documents.
This is according to the chairperson of the committee, Mike Kavekotora who made the remark on Tuesday during a public hearing on the Auditor-General (AG)'s report on the MRF accounts for the 2009/2010 financial year.
This means the committee cannot issue an opinion on the fund’s financial status.
The MRF was established under the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to carry out marine research activities, manage levies and quota fees collected from fishing companies.
The fund was represented at the hearing by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Ueritjiua Kauaria; chief accountant officer Henry Bock and accountant Coretta van Rooyen.
The committee called the hearing so the fund could explain the delay in producing its financial statements for four financial years - 2010/2011 to 2013/2014 – as well as the disclaimer reported in the financial statement for the 2009/2010 financial year ended on 31 March 2010.
The committee also questioned the fund's accounting officer about the purpose of investing N.dollars 2 million that was meant for research purposes.
Bock explained that the delay in producing the financial statements on time was caused by fraudulent activities reported between 1997 and 1998 and the case was handled before court.
Without explaining these activities, Bock, however, noted that since then no fraudulent activities were reported and the fund has recruited a consultant to assist in fast-tracking the production of the financial statements and the preparation of cash flow statements, which were never prepared in the fund.
“We are assuring the committee that no more fraudulent activities will be reported in the fund,” he said.
Bock further said the fund is also behind in the production of the four years’ financial statements because of a lack of manpower, high staff turnover and lack of cash flow statements.
A cash flow statement is a financial statement that shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents.
Bock said the fund has been managed by staff members in the ministry since its establishment in 1991 and no board directors have been appointed to oversee the functions of the fund.
The Chief Accounting Officer also noted that the N.dollars 2 million was invested in Old Mutual after authorisation from the Ministry of Finance in 2000 to invest some of the funds with financial institutions.
However, the fund has failed to provide supporting documents and correspondence regarding the authorisation from the Ministry of Finance, the investment agreement and bank reconciliation.
The team also failed to provide supporting documents on a current account containing N.dollars 10 963 and a call account containing N.dollars 1 708 405.
Kavekotora asked the fund to provide the outstanding documents for the committee to draw up recommendations that will be presented in Parliament.
“We are encouraging you to work hard in order to receive an unqualified opinion on the next report by the Auditor General,” he said.