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Query on practice

Manasa Kalouniviti
Wednesday, November 08, 2017

ONE of the issues raised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the audit of the Tavua Town Council (TTC) for the year 2012 was that the TTC had not transferred the roads, drains and verges to the Fiji Roads Authority (FRA) in accordance with the FRA Amendment Decree 2012.

This resulted in the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) issuing a qualified audit report for the year where the OAG stated that this had resulted in the overstatement of council's property, plant and equipment in the financial statements.

PAC chairman Ashneel Sudhakar told the TTC team that some of the councils had advised the PAC that when they transferred the roads etc to the FRA, the FRA had contracted them back for the cleaning and grass cutting etc.

"What is the position with the roads in Tavua; who does the maintenance of the roads?" Mr Sudhakar said.

Tavua Town Council CEO Binesh Naidu said: "The council still does it."

"And who pays for it; the council or FRA; is it contracted to you by FRA," the chairman asked.

TTC's finance manager Praveen Lata Prakash replied that the council still paid for the cost for all the road cleaning, including drains, verges.

"But for streetlight repairs the FRA uses its own contractors and also road repairs are done by the FRA," Ms Prakash said.

Mr Sudhakar said the practice appeared to be similar with other councils but Opposition member Aseri Radrodro said the arrangement seemed to be different because TTC was still carrying out the road cleaning and grass cutting.

"Do you get reimbursements from FRA for performing these cleaning of roads," Mr Radrodro asked.

Ms Prakash said they've never been reimbursed by FRA for these services.

Mr Radrodro then said for some councils they had interviewed earlier had the same arrangements but they were reimbursed by FRA for carrying out these services.

Mr Sudhakar said: "Maybe you can check with FRA on what's the arrangement and inform us; probably council can be reimbursed for the work done so far."

"Because it's a transfer of assets and you should be reimbursed for any work you've done on the roads," Mr Radrodro said.

Mr Sudhakar then asked OAG director audit Dineshwar Prasad to clarify on the practice in these types of arrangements.

"If the arrangement between council and FRA is based on a MOU then it should be in accordance with the MOU, but once the MOU is signed and the roads etc are transferred to FRA any subsequent works carried out by the council should be invoiced to and reimbursed by FRA; this is the arrangement with other councils," Mr Prasad said.

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