The Niue Assembly sat for the final time for 2019 on Wednesday morning this week and in keeping with tradition the session was for half-a-day only. By 1pm it was all over and the island’s elected representatives headed off to Matavai Resort.
Deloitte NZ to the Rescue
At the final session for 2019 the House was informed by the Premier Sir Toke Talagi that his government has engaged the services of one of the big accounting firms, Deloitte NZ, to assist Treasury in bringing the government’s accounting records up to date. The revelation came when the House was debating the next step after receiving an informal statement from Audit New Zealand on the state of government accounts.
A summary from the auditors showed that the audit of accounts for the financial year 2014/2015 has now been completed. Before an opinion can be issued, the government needs to sign off on the financial statements. That’s the good news. The not quite-so-good news is that there is a back-log of accounts still to be completed and be presented for auditing. These date back over four years, for the financial periods 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/2019.
For the government owned businesses, Audit NZ say in their statement that they have completed the audits for the financial year 2015/16 for Niue Commercial Enterprises Ltd, Niue Development Bank, Niue Bank and the Broadcasting Corporation.
The engagement of the accounting firm Deloitte to assist Treasury in the bringing the accounts up to date has been welcomed by the auditors. In the meantime, a draft report from Audit NZ to the Assembly has been referred to government officials to review. The report includes significant findings arising from the audit work up to the date of the report and the outstanding issues and recommendations raised in previous reports.
According to the Premier the cost for engaging the services of Deloitte is being met by the Niue Government with some assistance from New Zealand. He said some of the delay in completing the accounts was because government has changed the system from cash accounting to accrual accounting.
During the debate a former cabinet member of the Talagi administration Hon O’love Jacobsen, suggested to the House that in view of the difficulties facing Treasury in bringing completed accounts to audit, it may be time to forget those years in arrears and to concentrate on the current period. That suggestion did not receive much traction because it may be in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution and the Public Revenues Ordinance but there was some support for the suggestion to concentrate on the current financial period. Common roll member Crossley Tatui went a step further and suggested that ‘We are in a crisis’.
There were murmurings from some in the Assembly when Premier Sir Toke said that members should stop regarding the auditors as if they were kings or gods: “They’re just ordinary people”. In the past the Premier had been critical of the auditors for what he considered to be a lack in not offering practical help. Members not in the government caucus were quick to point out that the auditors were appointed under the Constitution to audit the accounts; the government’s task is to prepare the accounts.
There was overwhelming support for a motion from Hon Va’aiga Tukuitoga, member for Alofi Tokelau, for a review of the law regarding dogs, particularly dogs who attack and cause injury. Mrs Tukuitoga’s motion was specifically to allow animals who cause injury to humans to be put down but the debate also covered the welfare of animals and the numbers per household.
Undersea Internet Cable – The Manatua Cable linking the four Polynesian countries of Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands and Tahiti is well underway. The cable ship has dropped off the cable at Namoui and will now work its way to the Cook Islands and Tahiti. Premier advised the House that the cable will come on-line in June next year.
Chief government lawyer – the Crown Law Office is now headed by Justin Kamupala.
Public Service Commissioner – Cabinet is awaiting a recommendation from the Niue Public Service Commission before appointing a third member.
Dot Nu re-delegation – In answer to a question, Premier Sir Toke told members that Par Brumark is a citizen of Sweden who has been engaged by the Niue Government to work on the case to wrestle control of the top level domain name from IUSN and Swedish internet.
Old Bulk Fuel tanks – The Americans have expressed an interest in helping the island remove the old bulk fuel tanks near the wharf.
As a Matter of Interest :-
For those who don’t know and have always wanted to know, here are the State Owned Enterprises:
Niue Commercial Enterprises Limited – NCEL
Broadcasting Corporation of Niue – BCN
Niue Development Bank – NDB
Niue Philatelic and Numismatic Corporation – NPNC [Niue Power is under this Corporation]
Niue Bond and Liquor Company Limited – NBLCL
Niue International Trust Fund – NITF