Last week, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) terminated the services of four employees. From what we’ve been told, the former employees allegedly helped themselves to $15,000 of the Ministry’s petty cash money.
Pretty serious stuff, if you ask me.
Now having been caught, the former employees have been given the boot and are awaiting a full Police investigation where charges are likely to follow. Which means they are heading to the Supreme Court and if they are convicted, they will likely end up at Tafa’igata where all thieves and criminals belong.
It’s the sort of ending nobody wants.
But then the education officials are not the only ones.
More and more people who commit similar offenses have been heading up there so that today, it is fair to say Tafa’igata Prison is probably one of the more popular destinations in this country.
And that being the case, we just cannot help but think about how unfulfilled potential is up there because we know we have some of the smartest brains in Samoa locked up for one reason or another.
Perhaps that’s a story for another day, isn’t it?
Today, the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has assured that the Ministry is taking concrete steps to ensure the incident is not repeated. For example, he has revealed that they are lacking an Internal Auditor.
“M.E.S.C. does not have an Internal Auditor and I’m certain this is how these people got away with misappropriating government funds,” he said.
“There is no auditor to monitor the finances. There is no check and balance and that is why it is pertinent that one must be hired.”
Okay then. Today, the Minister insisted that having an Internal Auditor would solve many of their problems.
“I have advised the Ministry about the need to hire one,” he said. “Even if it means increasing the salary to attract accountants, but we will do what must be done to assure there is no repetition of such behaviour.”
Well there is a smart Minister.
When a problem surfaces, it should be dealt with right away, don’t you think? That’s how things should be done. Perhaps other Cabinet Ministers should take a leaf from Loau’s book.
“This is not the first time funds have been misappropriated within the Ministry. However the Police could not prosecute the case due to the fact there is insufficient evidence to proceed.”
Well let’s hope they have enough evidence to proceed this time around.
In the meantime, the Minister also used the opportunity to issue a warning to the rest of the M.E.S.C. staff.
Said Minister Loau: “To my staff, don’t do it because there are consequences to your actions. The government will terminate (the services of) anyone who steals from the Government.”
Now isn’t that the best thing someone in Government has said for a very long time?
Let’s just stop for a moment and think about this. Four employees have been sacked and charged for the theft of $15,000. Providing the allegation is proven, that’s about $3,750 per person.
It’s not a small amount of money.
But in the bigger scheme of things, when you think about the theft, corrupt practices and collusion, which have led to thousands and millions of public monies unaccounted for, the incident at the Ministry of Education is peanuts.
Let’s go back to what Minister Loau said one more time. Listen: “The government will terminate (the services of) anyone who steals from the Government.”
If only this was the reality in Samoa today.
What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!
Have a fabulous Tuesday Samoa, God bless!