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The University of Papua New Guinea has reduced its debt by K20 million

By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby

The University of PNG has managed to reduce its debt by K20 million and this was achieved through establishing a strong internal audit committee with the assistance of the Finance Department.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Albert Mellam said the university has made tremendous strides in cleaning up its administrative system.This was announced today at an award ceremony hosted by the Finance Department where the university won the award for ‘best performing internal audit committee’. 

When Professor Mellam took over as Vice Chancellor in 2013 he inherited a university that was broke. It had a debt of K65 million to service providers. Hidden liabilities brought the debt total to K87 million. 

Under the Finance Department’s Public Service Audit Program, the university looked at critical governance areas that needed tightening up.

The payroll system was one such area that contained a lot of what the Professor described as “leakages.” There were a lot of ghost names that were being paid out which every pay run cost the university close to K70, 000.

He said the university administration has now taken complete control of this and cut the leakages to zero. Other critical areas that the audit unit is looking closely at are assets management, ICT and human resources.

Part of the remaining challenge that the university has to overcome is its group tax liability. Professor Mellam said this is a huge challenge that will take a lot of time, thinking and collaboration to service.

In 2005 the Public Service Audit Program was established following an amendment to the Public Finance Management Act. This amendment was made to ensure that all statutory bodies and provincial governments will establish Internal Audit Units and Internal Audit Committees in their management systems. Currently there are over 30 active internal audit unit and committees. 

Today, the Finance department awarded UPNG the best performing internal audit committee under this program. Along with this comes prize money of K50, 000 that will go towards their internal audit activities. This serves as a milestone in UPNGs administrative struggles. 

While officiating at the ceremony, Departmenty Secretary (Strategy) of Finance, Samuel Penias said this type of successcan only come through commitment towards making the program work. He urged all provincial governments and statutory bodies to set up internal audit units in their respective management systems.

While UPNG took out the top prize, the Civil Aviation Service Authority was first runner up with prize money of K20, 000. The PSAP is supported by the Australian Government.

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