PAC Findings & Recommendations

A FURTHER 50% of all government statutory bodies do not have ‘qualified accountants’, and 51% of them were not aware of the Public Finance & Economic Management Act, this is according to the findings revealed by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 10 April 2015.

“You Have Failed”: PAC

"You Have Failed"
“You Have Failed”

The current situation is alarming; did you know that three government institutions have no accounts department? Did you also know that several leaders of this institutions do not know that the Leadership Code actually exists? Did you know that roughly 80% of those that were summoned admitted to breaking the law by not abiding with the “financial rules”?

AS THE RELIEF effort continues to assist areas affected by cyclone Pam another cyclone is slowly but firmly taking ground at the parliament house. The last four days of public hearings by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed more than what we think we know about the government statutory bodies.

By far the results are “disgraceful”, as the PAC Chairman MP Marcelino Pipite described, “it is a mess”, and in several of the hearings it was clear that the revenue received was being used only to operate the company without providing any dividends to the government. In some other cases the PAC stated that they were very “concerned that the government budgets to government institutions are being used only to pay for salaries” rather than on actual service deliveries.

Clearly, with more than 20 onlookers as witnesses, roughly 80% of those that were summoned admitted to breaking the law by not abiding by the Vanuatu Financial Management Act.

Having very high salaries and dealing with millions of vatu every single day without providing any financial report is alarming, and it demands tough actions. Salaries per month range from VT600, 000, 800,000 to 2 million vatu, the PAC and the onlookers were left in awe at the extravagant salary scales that were being offered by several of the government statutory bodies.

“Yet they report on deficits”, the PAC reported while trying to compare the high salaries to the reasons for the deficits, and the fact that some of them have not paid dividends to the government for years,

“and on top of their high salaries they are offered compny vehicles and fuel per month”.

Police officers are instructed to escort a leader who has not turned up for the PAC hearing
Police officers are instructed to escort a leader who has not turned up for the PAC hearing

Generally, each institution is supposed to be trusted and given the respect it deserves as an income generating mechanism for the government on behalf of the people of Vanuatu, therefore it is with great concern to know that the performance of this mechanisms is not as “capable” as we think.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) reported that there are vulnerable areas within the national institutions in July 2014, and recommending that areas such as the capacity, the governance and the role of the institutions be looked at and strengthened accordingly. With vulnerability corruption is bound to assume a more active invasive role therefore weakening the structures more.

In some cases the PAC discovered that funds were allocated to other parties without prior approval from the parliament, “only the parliament has the power to relocate state money” explained the PAC Chairman MP Marcelino Pipite, thus without prior approval from the parliament it is clear that the directives within the certain department was unprofessional and unethical.

Furthermore, during the course of the hearings the PAC mentioned a few times the existence of “mystery funds”, funds that had a name and a numerical value but had no records to prove whether they actually existed.

Transparency International Vanuatu would like to commend on the decisions and actions taken by PAC during the hearings, it shows the ideals of transparency and accountability, and it echoes the interest of the public. “This hearings should be carried out on a regular basis” a member of the public told TIV, it is important that the general public are made aware of the outcome of the hearings and to realise the importance of demanding better governance models and systems within the national institutions.

The PAC is expected to hold a press conference this afternoon at 2pm at the parliament house to report on their findings. TIV is aware that this is just the beginning of a longer process that will proceed until June, where the PAC will further analyse and report on the contents of the hearings.

The question on everybody’s mind now is: Will someone be penalised? Given Vanuatu’s very rare practice in prosecuting leaders it would be interesting to see if anyone is prosecuted at all. With this sudden but unsurprising results, TIV strongly urges that actions must be taken, and hope that changes happen for the betterment of Vanuatu.

The responsibilities of the Public Accounts Committee can be found here.

A Place To Report Your Grievances – ALAC


A place to report your grievances – Advocacy & Legal Advice Center

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) has heard complaints being raised by members of the public concerning the unfair distributions of aid supplies. People are complaining about the unfair distribution of relief supplies via social media, the media, and even towards the National Disaster Management Office.

It is evident that in some areas, especially in Port Vila, out of a neighborhood of 10 households 2 or 3 of them were not included in the distribution of reliefs, this has raised a lot of concerns among the public on whether the coordination of community assessments was done in a well-coordinated manner.

In some communities it has been reported that more than one assessments were carried out by two different individuals while for some households they received nothing at all. Therefore people are encouraged to raise their concerns with the appropriate authorities and not be silent, if we speak up something can be done to address the issue.

For instance, if your home is badly damaged, yet your neighbors are receiving more aid even though their house is not damaged but because they have a relative working with the relief distribution teams then you must report it. It might be that it was just a genuine mistake, but whatever the case it is important to report to the authorities your situation and let them investigate the issue.

With massive bulks of relief supplies stored in certain locations, it would be hard to find out if one or two items have ‘disappeared’. Thus it is important for members of the public to report any form of irregularities within their communities, it is also important to be reminded that everyone has to receive a fair share of reliefs within a certain region.

If there are ‘highs and lows’ even on the same street then something is definitely wrong, and it should be reported immediately.

People survey the damages in Freswota, Port Vila in the morning after the cyclone (3)

TIV is assuring the public that it has a place where you can report your grievances, called ALAC. ALAC stands for Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC). It is a Legal Advice Centre that provides free legal advice and assistance to victims and witnesses of corruption.

ALAC’s aim is to help citizens and residents from all areas regardless of their status to pursue corruption based complaints and to encourage them to “speak out” and come forward in strict client confidentiality to further their complaint.

We have legal officers that are all qualified lawyers who can provide legal recommendations, or advice concerning the options available to each complainant. The ALAC is located at the Rivarec Pacific building in town. You can come and visit us to report your grievances. Or you can contact us on 29008 and speak to one of our lawyers.


Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Aid Assistance

Emergency relief being delivered
Emergency relief being delivered

AFTER CYCLONE PAM hit Vanuatu, international aid have been flowing into the country to support people who have been affected by the category 5 storm. Transparency International Vanuatu is concerned about the way humanitarian assistance are being distributed to the people of Vanuatu and the fact that corruption may be involved in some cases.

Humanitarian Assistance Aid can encounter many different corruption risks throughout the program cycle of the aid distribution, it is important to be aware of corruption risks in the process and prevent them from occurring.

Local Intermediaries

Partners and Local Intermediaries is one of the first things to be considered at the beginning of Humanitarian Assistance Aids operations. Humanitarian Aids Assistance has to create relationships with other organizations or appoint someone or a group within a community to help them with the progress of work on the ground.

In Vanuatu, there are local relief committees in each committee. Local relief or camp committees or volunteer groups often play an important role in planning and implementing humanitarian aid projects. Their decisions and actions are key to equitable programmes free from corruption and bias. But, when there is a biased relief committee, reports will be biased thus aid relief will also be biased.

Seafront littered with stones
Seafront littered with stones

A biased committee may divert aid from those who most need it towards their families, friends, ethnic or regional group, or those able to pay. To prevent a biased relief committee, it is recommended that committees or volunteers are not given total discretionary power.

It is important for observers and other relevant authorities to make random, surprise visits to observe committees or volunteers in action. It is also important to try to ensure strong female representation on a committee, and that women and minorities are not just present, but that they have a say in decision making.

Targeting Criteria

Consequently when there is a bias in relief committee there will be a bias in the targeting criteria. Thus, aid is effectively wasted as it does not get to the real emergency victims but is diverted to other groups who may have influenced the local relief committee.

Biased staff or local committee relief may deliberately set criteria that are very complex, making it harder for beneficiaries to hold an organization accountable and increasing the opportunities for corruption. To prevent this from happening it is important to use both geographic and administrative criteria.

False Exaggerated or Incomplete Reports

False exaggerated or incomplete reports are likely to be produced by biased staffs or local relief committees. It is very important that all assessment reports be accurate and independent, not biased. This is because the distributions depend on what is written on assessment reports. Thus to prevent false exaggerated or incomplete reports, it is recommended that reports are widely disseminated amongst key people in the organizations and committees to verify accuracy of information. Suspicious reports must be followed up.

Food Aid Kit     

The large volumes and high values involved make emergency food aid highly vulnerable to corruption; bulk foods are hard to identify if diverted corruptly. Throughout the supply chain, staff or partners may divert food for personal use or sale. Poor quality or adulterated food may be delivered by corrupt suppliers, or smaller amounts than contracted for may be supplied. Emergency victims will not receive the right amount of food aid kit they should receive if biased relief committees produce biased reports.

Inventory documents may be falsified and food smuggled out of warehouses or siphoned off during repackaging or

Relief supplies for 15 days
Relief supplies for 15 days

transportation. Local public officials may divert food, forcefully or with staff collusion. Food may be diverted during targeting or registration, through inflation of population figures. Distributors may reduce entitlements, skim food off for later sale, give more than the standard ration and later collect their share, or show bias to certain recipients.

Surpluses may be ‘ordered’ and sold by community leaders. Such practices must not be encouraged as the distribution of aid is progressing in Vanuatu.

Emergency victims deserve to receive the right amount of aid they are entitled to -, not more, not less. So, to prevent such corrupt practices there must be strict procurement policies, implemented by specialist staff. Follow strict prequalification and bid procedures when selecting suppliers; monitor the implementation of contracts to ensure deliveries are not undersized or adulterated. Additionally, humanitarian aid assistance organizations must ensure secure, safe storage and transport of food items, for instance, using formal procedures for arrival and dispatch.


Moreover, carrying out needs assessment and targeting based on community participation is essential. It is vital to ensure you are reaching intended recipients only and that you publish information transparently. Furthermore, Design and monitor distribution carefully, in collaboration with recipients. Identify secure distribution sites, easily accessed by recipients.

Have signed agreements with staff and partners that food won’t be traded or sold. Encourage use of your complaint mechanism if entitlements aren’t received; investigate all missing goods. Consult the community over likely post-distribution events; tailor food delivery accordingly. And finally, monitor and evaluate your entire supply chain regularly counts as well in the prevention of corruption in distributing food aid kit.

Include spot-checks of storage, transport and distribution in all M&E reports. Make surprise site visits during transit and distributions, examine ration receipts or attendance lists, and verify with recipients that rations received match entitlements. Carry out ‘food basket verification’ and ensure containers are completely empty post-distribution.

Corruption poses a greater risk during situations like this, it is important that, among all the rush to meeting deadlines and ensuring that reliefs are dispatched, the monitoring and fairness of relief efforts must be maintained, and practically sustained throughout the entire relief and rehabilitation timeframe.

A copy of the Publication on : Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Assistance, can be downloaded here.

Source: Transparency International, 2014, “Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Aid Assistance”, Humanitarian Assistance,