ECan hits back on lake costs query

16:00, Mar 19 2014

The Canterbury Regional Council has criticised an audit that raises questions about the way it managed government money for the cleanup of Lake Ellesmere.

More than $1.7 million of Ministry for the Environment funding has been used by Environment Canterbury (ECan) and Ngai Tahu in their cleanup of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).

A $12,500 taxpayer-funded audit by accountancy firm Deloitte said ECan could not prove how $38,000 of that money was used in the 2011 financial year.

There are also questions about $58,000 of spending that was not "supported by contracts".

ECan says the audit's claims are untrue.

The audit said: "The council is not aware of how the $38,000 (excluding GST) was spent, monitored or reported . . ." and "we noted approximately $58,000 (excluding GST) in sampled expenditures supported by invoices . . . that were not supported by contracts and the process followed for procuring these was not documented".


ECan director of investigations and monitoring Ken Taylor said he was making inquiries and locating the invoices and contracts to prove its record-keeping.

"There absolutely will be an invoice," Taylor said.

"What I suspect is that this happened right at the start of the project when we didn't have a project manager.

"My belief is the money was used for planting We will track down the invoice. There will be a rational reason for it.".

He said it was "incorrect" for the audit to say ECan did not have a procurement process.

"Legally we are required to have these and we have doorstop-sized process on this."

The ministry did not answer questions about whether it was investigating the truth of the claims or whether it would query the findings with Deloitte.

A spokesman said it was "working through" the issues with ECan.

Also red-flagged in the audit was the lack of clarity over who would get $87,000 in interest - the ministry or the project.

ECan said this was a matter for the ministry to decide.

The Press