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Questions over ministry contracts still unanswered

Jonathan Coleman MP National Party Associate Health Spokesman

25 February 2006

Questions over ministry contracts still unanswered

National's Associate Health spokesman, Dr Jonathan Coleman, says more questions than answers arose from the financial review of the Ministry of Health in Parliament's health select committee this week.

"In a number of areas the Ministry's responses require further investigation," says Dr Coleman.

"During the 2002/03 financial year, the Chief Internal Auditor at the ministry identified deficiencies in the ministry's system for monitoring contract performance.

"Yet in its December 2005 report into the ministry's contracting with consultants Allen and Clarke, the Auditor-General noted that the expected improvements in contract management had not been achieved."

Dr Coleman says it took the Ministry seven months to provide information in response to parliamentary questions about the contracting relationship between Allen and Clarke and the Ministry of Health, rather than the six days required under Speaker's rulings.

"Even then the ministry could not correctly identify the number of contracts it had entered into with Allen and Clarke. Officials said it held 42 contracts, but the Auditor-General's office found there were 60.

"The Auditor-General went on to note that the $1.35 million that it identified as having been paid to Allen and Clarke did not tally with the ministry's own records.

"The ministry administers nearly $10 billion of taxpayer money each year, yet it cannot identify how much money it pays out and to whom. This does not inspire confidence that taxpayer money is being spent wisely," says Dr Coleman.

ENDS

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