Sunday 17 December, 2017

NLCB falls short on financial reports for 5 years

Marvin Johncilla, Chairman, National Lotteries Control Board.

Marvin Johncilla, Chairman, National Lotteries Control Board.

Outdated salaries are being blamed for the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) failing to submit annual reports to the Parliament since 2012.

The NLCB came under pressure on Wednesday during the Joint Select Committee on Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities (LSCSA).

Responding to a question from H. R. Ian Roach, Chairman of the LASCSA NLCB’s Chief Accountant Leslie Ann John attributed the shortfall to the high turnover of Financial Comptrollers over the last five years.

“Mr Chairman in 2013 the Financial Comptroller we had in that time left and would have prepared up to 2009. In 2014 we had another Financial Comptroller, who also left, and would have prepared up to 2012. In late 2015 we got another Financial Comptroller who left in 2016 and was responding to the management letters that was issued by the Auditor General, and two months ago we just received another Financial Comptroller who is currently responding to those management letters and to bring ‘13 – ‘17 up to date so we can have it for audit.”

The high turnover was attributed to the compensation package offered for the position, which the NLCB’s Human Resource Assistant, Yana Mollino opined was below average for the Financial Comptroller position and qualifications.

Mollino explained that the terms of remuneration for the position are set by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and that due to the qualifications required for the position, it has been a challenge retaining qualified candidates at the subscribed salary.

Chairman of the NLCB, Marvin Johncilla said, “The board has been constrained over the years in terms of getting the required competencies within the NLCB particularly within the position of the Financial Comptroller. It is a difficult position to attract bearing in mind the level of compensation that is on offer. We have since October, been able to acquire the services of a qualified professional with 20 plus years of experience and that Financial Comptroller is now addressing the backlog in a significant way to include dedicated staff at NLCB to ensure that our financial statements are brought up to par. It was as a result of the difficulty in attracting an ACCA qualified Financial Comptroller, but we have since done that.”

Pressed further on why the NLCB’s recent increase in earnings did not correlate to an increase in remuneration packages available to offer to required personnel, Johncilla continued, “The NLCB and by extension, the board of directors is a statutory authority…and the terms and conditions of employment are set by the Statutory Authorities Service Commission. That organisation is constrained in terms of the kinds of emoluments on offer in respect of attracting the type of talent that is required at the NLCB. NCLB is a $2.9 billion sales organisation and we are staffed by public servants whose remuneration is defined by the CPO and as a result in the delay of certain collective agreements, we have had to pay dated salaries, literally, in respect of acquiring talent. The Board has made every effort through its contract arrangements and through its service provision arrangements to acquire the talent that is needed, but in view of the constraints set by the existing compensation arrangement, it is very very difficult…We are a statutory company, we report to the Ministry of Finance; yes we are a corporate entity but we can’t simply get up one morning and change the compensation, we have to go through the SASC.”

Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Lisa Phillips, said the Ministry of Finance is aware of the situation with regard to compensation but that the Ministry is constrained by having to submit to the Human Resource Advisory Committee for their approval for salaries.

Roach agreed that the salaries on offer were "woefully inadequate" for the level of talent required to discharge the functions of NLCB. He asserted there must be creative solutions for bringing salaries to the level that would attract the necessary human resources, given the length of time it takes for approval of salaries through the CPO.