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Fisheries Observer Fund fails to charge outstanding debtors … at risk of losing revenue down the drain

by Kelvin Chiringa

An audit carried out on the Fisheries Observer Fund discloses that the fund has not been imposing interest on debtors owing it within seven days of receipt of invoice which is in defiance of a government Gazette. 

The Fund managers have already acknowledged their shortfall and have since promised to liaise with the ministry of fisheries on the “best possible route to comply with the notice”.

 The audit has also disclosed that debtors amounting to N$5 925 483 owe the fund for more than 30 days which represents 48% of the total debtors.

This shows another defiance to comply with the the gazetted notice 146 of the ministry of fisheries  and marine resources.

“The government notice 146 rendered the Fund’s Debtors Policy invalid and the fund has asked guidance from the management board as to how to enforce the rules stated in the notice,” said management.

Furthermore, it has come out that the fund does not provide for doubtful debts despite their debtors disclosed in the financial statements amounting to N$13 million declared as uncollectable.

“Failure by the fund to make provision for doubtful debts in the financial statement might result in receivables being over-stated. The accounting officer should ensure that credit policy is prepared, approved and implemented” AG Junias Kandjeke has warned.

In their response, the management of the fund said the debtor’s policy approved by their board of directors on 19 December 2011 relates to the old method of observer levy collection.

“The current method of levy collection which was gazetted in August 2014 deemed the debtor’s policy invalid and has caused the authority to collect outstanding debts to be vested only in the minister of fisheries and marine resources as stated in the notice number 146 of government gazette, August 2014,” they said.

They further stated that the said notice was not obligatory  as it states that the minister “may” impose interest at the rate of 12% against any person who fails to pay the levy due within seven days of receipt of invoice.

“Management has made submission to the management board to provide the fund with written instructions on how to proceed with the debt management process. The Fisheries Observer Fund is committed to collect outstanding levies to ensure financial accountability and sustainability for the fund and agency,” they said.