Agriculture ministry refunds money owed to Waqabaca

A CONTRACTED senior agriculture officer was refunded his money owed to him because it was legally-bound in his contract.

Ministry of Agriculture director Human Resources Finance and Communication Mereseini Bou issued this explanation to the Public Accounts Committee last week when asked on the case of Joape Waqabaca, a senior agriculture officer who was being paid the senior research officer’s salary.

PAC member Aseri Radrodro had noted issues of anomalies on Mr Waqabaca’s engagement as highlighted in the ministry’s audit report for 2011.

“The audit had highlighted a lot of issues regarding that particular person’s engagement and his salary being not according to the public service salary scale,” Mr Radrodro said.

In response, Ms Bou said they had sought the Solicitor-General’s opinion on the salary that was awarded to Mr Waqabaca.

She said Mr Waqabaca was given a contract agreement — his salary, however, was not according to the post he held.

“He held the post of a senior agriculture officer but the salary that was given to him was the salary of the senior research officer. The senior research officer salary is more than the senior agriculture officer salary,” Ms Bou said.

She said they had sought the opinion of the ministry’s permanent secretary and they had agreed to recover the difference of salary from Mr Waqabaca.

“But when they sought the Solicitor-General’s opinion — since we had an agreement with Mr Waqabaca and its legally binded, we were informed not to recover the money,” she said.

The money was refunded to Mr Waqabaca.