No agreement for bus fare assistance

Josateki Gudru taps his e-transport card on to the receiver at the Suva Bus Stand. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

There was no evidence to indicate proper independent verification was carried out on the income of parents of students who had been assisted under the bus fare assistance program at the Ministry of Education or school level.

This, according to the performance audit on the administration and management of bus fare assistance through e-ticketing for schoolchildren, the elderly and persons with disabilities, conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG).

Students of parents with combined salaries or incomes of $16,000 and below were eligible to apply for assistance.

“The lack of independent checks on declared income by parents at school level increases the risk of misuse of the assistance under the program by students whose parents have a combined income that is more than the approved threshold,” stated the report.

The OAG recommended the Ministry of Education enter into an agreement with the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service to obtain regular confirmation of parents of students assisted under the program.

“Following confirmation, students who do not fall within the defined category should be excluded.

“This will ensure value for money as the assistance is only provided to those students that really need the assistance.

“Such controls will also reduce the risk of abuse of the program.”

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