Delta Petroleum Gas Pumps at Osborne's Service Station.

Auditor General Finds Trade’s Fuel Stock and Cost Estimation Process Faulty

The Office of the Auditor General is presented its report entitled Information Technology Audit of the Trade and
Quality Infrastructure Division: Electronic Fuel Price Calculator to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
Background
With the advancement of technology, the Government of Montserrat’s Ministries and Departments have become increasingly dependent on utilising information systems to perform key functions. In an effort to provide efficient ways to calculate the price of fuel, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet was designed to capture the basic formula stated within the price of goods ordered. In 2019, the Trade Division requested a review of the Electronic Fuel Price (EFP) Calculator.
Key Findings
 The calculator’s computations are precise, whether or not correct information is inputted. However, the Excel spreadsheet calculator does not have controls in place to guard against errors; or to protect the formulae and the integrity, validity, and reliability of the inserted data. This calculator is not a secure program as access to the Excel workbook is not password protected.
 Over the years, periodic confirmations of the dip stick measurements at Deltas’ Facility and the retailers’ storage tanks were not executed. The two main reasons for this prolonged non-compliance were [a] the vacancy of the Trade and Quality Infrastructure Officer Post for a number of years and [b] incomplete training of the recruited Trade Officer on the physical aspects of the job. In addition, owing to the absence of a verification system, there is the potential for doubt to arise relating to the measurements.
 The Trade and Quality Infrastructure Division has a practice of estimating the levels of fuel in the storage tanks at the two service stations. As a result, the OAG has determined that this estimation does not reflect an accurate quantity of petrol retailers’ fuel stock or the cost of fuel on Montserrat.
 A directive was issued by the Cabinet in June 2019 instructing the Ministry within which the Trade Division operates and the Ministry of Finance to review the accuracy of the fuel price calculations but this was not actioned for over two years. A collaborative assessment of the fuel price calculator commenced last month in September 2021.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The Division has been averaging the levels of fuel and this practice of estimation does not yield a true reflection of the Petrol Retailors’ fuel stock, or the cost of fuel. The inputs into the calculator are dependent on a process that is inherently subject to error, which is further compounded by the length of time that the situation of reviewing has elapsed.
It is further recommended that the Government of Montserrat should engage an independent technical consultant or expert to assess the entire fuel supply chain, storage, measurement and pricing and any other aspect of this monopoly in the public interest.

Read the full report here.

The report in its entirety can be found at the Montserrat Public Library or by requesting an electronic copy from the Office of the Auditor General, located upstairs Angelo’s Complex, Brades. E-mail: audit@gov.ms ; Telephone: (664) 491 – 3460 or 491 – 4569.