The Northern Islands Stevedoring Company Limited (NISCOL) net profit for the 2017 financial year has almost quadrupled.
Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, said NISCOL has recorded a profit of Vt197, 655, 340 — almost four times more than the 2016 profit (Vt54 million).
As a result, Vt49.4 million (25% Concession to the Vanuatu Government) for the 2017 financial year was deposited last week.
Dividends paid to the NISCOL shareholders are as follows: Vt23.4 million to SANMA (30%), Vt15.6 million each to PENAMA and MALAMPA (20%); and Vt7.8 million each to the Vanuatu Government, TORBA and the Luganville Municipal Council (10%).
Minister Napuat has attributed the drastic turnover to good governance and strict management principles.
“In the past, NISCOL was never run as a business, he said.
“The management was heavily politicized; appointments and recruitments were never done on merit. Almost 100% of the recruits and appointments were based on the political affiliation of the parties in power (government).”
This means that whenever there is a change in the government, the Management and Board of NISCOL also changes.
The cost of such changes on NISCOL financially are quite heavy, claims never made it to court.
The minister said, “100% of these cases are sorted outside the courts. It was very easy to make millions of vatu out of NISCOL, all you need to do is present a case and convince or gain the support of your MPs and Ministers… and after a phone call from your MP or minister to the NISCOL Management, your claim is settled.”
He said the Management and the Board never care to observe ad abide by the NISCOL Articles of Association (AOA).
In fact, the Board’s monthly salaries were higher than those stated in the AOA.
The AOA specifically set the number of board numbers to be six.
Unfortunately, due to the coalition arrangement of the government, at one time NISCOL had 13 board members.
NISCOL has been labelled as cash cow for politicians in the past, and minister Napuat mentioned this.
“NISCOL was operating as a charitable organisation or ‘garden blong ol MPs, lots of giveaways towards political campaigns, deaths, marriages and to social groups, he stated.
“All you need to do is place a request through your MP or minister…and after a phone call to NISCOL, your request is paid”.
The minister said NISCOL accounts are never audited and accounting was never done professionally. Accountants were never recruited on merit. More than 80% of the transactions are done on a cash basis and were not recorded properly.
He added, “In the case of the management team, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Accountant were not recruited on merit. Likewise, those in managerial positions.
“There was never a staff regulation or work procedure manual/guidelines. The employees did not have clear job descriptions.
“The organizational structure was never reviewed and adjusted, based on the demand at the port.”
The minister says dividends were not paid to shareholders when NISCOL did not make a profit.
With the current situation, the CEO is recruited on merit and is very competent in Stevedoring and worked in PNG Stevedoring before NISCOL recruited him.
The current board of directors (six members) are appointed on merit, a team of very high caliber personnel.
Minister Napuat says no monthly salaries are paid to the current board, only allowances during sittings.
The organizational structure was reviewed, Job descriptions developed along with a Procedure manual and staff regulations.
NISCOL accounts are audited annually by iCount. For the first time, NISCOL is making profit.
“This is due to good governance and management principles that is strictly implemented by NISCOL, Mr. Napuat concluded.
“The operating expenses were reduced dramatically, compared to the past year.
“The Stevedoring equipment are regularly serviced and the old equipment were replaced to ensure efficiency.
“When the management changed and governance strengthen, the shareholders received dividends in 2016 and 2017 , unlike the past years.”