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Breaking News:

Report: ‘Excessive’ overtime for embassy chauffeur

  • Terrance Bastian.

TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL
Guardian Senior Reporter
travis@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 14, 2017

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Auditor General Terrance Bastian has raised concerns regarding “excessive” overtime payments made to chauffeurs in two Bahamian embassies as well as accounts reporting and records in several other Bahamian consulates and embassies.

Nine Auditor General Reports were tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The audits examined the accounts of Bahamian foreign offices in Cuba, Haiti, China, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York.

A chauffeur for the former Bahamas ambassador to the United States was paid nearly $50,000 in overtime from 2013 to 2016, Bastian said.

Bastian wrote that the chauffeur was paid $15,566.61 for the 2013/2014 fiscal year, $15,299.27 for 2014/2015 and $16,017.25 for 2015/2016.

The chauffer received overtime payments totaling $46,883.13.

“As a result of the escalating cost for overtime, the embassy initiated the process to adjust the working hours of the ambassador’s chauffeur from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.,” Bastian wrote.

“It was anticipated that the office driver would be responsible for driving the ambassador between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. This plan was not fully implemented.

“We recommend that the embassy revisit the proposal to adjust the working hours for the ambassador’s chauffeur and that consideration be given to the overall budget when awarding overtime.

“Additionally, whenever practical, time off in lieu of monetary compensation should apply.”

That audit has a reference period January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016.

Bastian raised similar concerns in The Bahamas Embassy in Beijing, China. That report, which looked into the accounts of the embassy in China, has a reference period of January 1, 2014 to May, 31, 2016.

“During the period January to October 2016 a total of 48,489.25 RMB, the Chinese yuan, (US $7,406.57) was spent on overtime for a driver,” the report noted.

“It was further noted that another driver was compensated in the amount of 13,056.25 RMB ($US 1,990.62) for the same period, which resulted in a difference of 35,433 RMB (US $5,368.64).

“The criteria used for the selection of a driver were unknown at the time of the review. Therefore, we were unable to substantiate the reasons for the embassy not sharing overtime between drivers, especially given the long hours the drivers are required work.

“It is highly recommended that consideration be given to use both drivers on a rotational basis.”

Bastian also raised concerns about the accounting records at the Bahamas Consulate General Office in New York.

That audit has a reference period of July 1, 2014 to July 29, 2016.

“During the review of the collection and depositing of revenue for the period July 2014 to March 2015 we discovered that the accounting records were disjointed,” the report said.

“This impeded the audit progress. As a result, the total amount of revenue collected could not be determined. Based on our examination, it is apparent that there was lack of oversight by management.

“We noted, however, an attempt by the newly assigned finance officer to organize the accounts so that the outstanding revenue could be determined.

“We view this matter with grave concern and recommend that management seek clarification as to the revenue processed during the period in question.

“Also, all revenue should be forwarded to Ministry of Foreign Affairs for deposit in the consolidated fund account.”

 

 

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