SMTF gets positive audit verification | THE DAILY HERALD

SMTF administrative team.


CAY HILL–The Disbursement Linked Indicator for the Emergency Income Support and Training Programme (EISTP) has completed the verification process by the Stichting Overheids Accountants Bureau (SOAB). This will be executed by the St. Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF).

  SOAB was contracted by the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) to carry out the verification audit. In a press release on Wednesday SMTF stated that the audit was an important part of NRPB’s ongoing efforts to ensure compliance of all projects in its portfolio with the guidelines and rules as established by the World Bank and the Trust Fund. The guidelines and rules of the EISTP are documented in the Project Operations Manual which was approved by the World Bank and went into effect on June 1.

  The verification audit consisted of a desk review to verify participants’ eligibility, the completeness of their documentation, checks of the system and procedures for reporting attendance, confirmation of payment of stipends, assurance of payment of health premiums and transportation allowances.

  In addition to the desk review, interviews were conducted by SOAB with senior staff at the NRPB, SMTF and World Bank to get a good understanding of the EISTP and the documents submitted for review.

  “The Disbursement Linked Indicator is the number of eligible students enrolled in the EISTP who receive income support on a monthly basis (based on the required minimum attendance at the training sessions) in exchange for attending classes three times per week for two hours,” SMTF said. A target of 750 eligible beneficiaries was set in accordance with the Grant Agreement and specified in the Disbursement & Financial Information Letter dated August 3, 2018.

  The SOAB audit found the total number of eligible beneficiaries for the period researched to be 824, which exceeds the target by almost 10 per cent. The SOAB audit also found positive results on the participants’ eligibility checks, the completeness of documentation, attendance reporting and the payments of stipends and health premiums.

  According to SMTF, this verification audit confirmed the findings of previous audits conducted by the World Bank, that SMTF is managing the EISTP programme effectively and efficiently. Next month the SOAB will conduct a technical audit of the programme while accountants from Baker Tilly Advisory St. Maarten have been retained to carry out a financial audit. Additionally, business advisors from Grant Thornton are completing an audit of the programme from its inception to December 31, 2018.

  “SMTF welcomes the auditors with open arms and acknowledges the importance of transparency and accountability for the use of the donated funds. It is very important that all stakeholders feel confident that the donated funds are reaching the target group,” commented Programme Director Sergio Wolff.

  The EISTP is implemented through the St. Maarten Trust Fund that is financed by the government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by the NRPB. All enrolled students receive financial support (stipend) for attending classes and successfully completing the programme, a small transportation allowance, as well as medical coverage through the Social and Health Insurances SZV.

  SMTF further states the EISTP is the only social programme on the island that provides direct financial support to the participants in the form of a biweekly stipend. The programme caters to persons who are unemployed or underemployed (working part-time, less than 20 hours per week). Eligible persons can choose courses in Hospitality, Culinary, Construction, St. Maarten Culture and History (which is an integral part of Hospitality and Culinary), English as a Second [language – Ed.] and Basic Literacy. SMTF partners with the University of St. Martin (USM) and National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) on some of the courses.

  Persons wishing to participate in the programme must register at the Labour Department. Criteria such as legal status in St. Maarten, level of (un)employment and residency are used to determine eligibility. Once eligibility has been established by the Labour Department the applicant is transferred to SMTF to complete the enrolment process.

  Interested persons can contact the Labour Department or call SMTF via tel. (721)520-7574 for more information. SMTF is located at the Hillside Christian Schools’ Asha Stevens Campus in Cay Hill.

Source: The Daily Herald