Categorized | National News

Griffin Says SS Addressing Fraud Concerns

Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie Griffin during her contribution to the budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday, assured the necessary steps are being taken to address concerns of fraud and misappropriation of funds within her department; a fault which was revealed earlier this year via the Auditor General’s report.

The report disclosed that staff members at that department were involved in a fraudulent scheme whereby they used food coupons intended for Bahamians on welfare to purchase groceries for themselves.

In addition, the report raised serious concerns about oversight at the department noting that more than $4 million in cheque requests were paid out to suppliers without proper authorization.

However, last month, Minister Griffin sought to refute claims circulating that the department had encountered $4 million in fraud.

“What we have is $1,100 worth of food coupons that have been the subject of fraud and also we have a $6,900 medical expense from that in order to believe that there was collusion. The service provider has already reimbursed the government that $6,900. So basically the issue now is the $1100,” Mrs. Griffin said.

She assured that internal audits will be conducted periodically to ensure the department does not encounter such misfortunes futuristically.

“As Minister it is my duty to recognize such problems and ensure solutions are provided in a timely and forthright manner. Where inconsistencies have been found, they are being addressed; where wrongdoings have been uncovered, necessary internal action has been taken and the matter has also been turned over to the authorities,” the minister said.

The minister said the department has accepted most of the observations and recommendations made by the Auditor General.

She noted that other matters being addressed included several cases in which there was a significant time lapse between financial requests and service delivery related to administration of Health Social Services.

“On the matter of misappropriation of funds, the Finance Officer of the Department agrees with and accepts the recommendation calling for mitigating controls which will be implemented to reduce risks such as fraud. Plans are already in place for staff training to reinforce proper management procedures and accountability,” said Minister Griffin.

“Mrs. Griffin said the matter from the Auditor-General’s Report that has drawn most of the public’s attention — the fraudulent use of food coupons – is also being addressed,” she added.

“Unfortunately this has been an ongoing concern for successive governments and over the years, these matters – contrary to public opinion – have been turned over to the Police and have also been prosecuted before the Courts. The same procedure has been followed in the current situation,” she said.

Mrs. Griffin said the department throughout the ensuing months will actively address each concern.


“The Director and the department’s executive team have reviewed the fundamental issues of procedures, internal controls and improved oversight,” she said.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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