News Irish News

Saturday 24 June 2017

'Uncertain future' for troubled aid charity Goal, say auditors

Celine Fitzgerald, general manager of international aid charity Goal. Photo: Damien Eagers
Celine Fitzgerald, general manager of international aid charity Goal. Photo: Damien Eagers
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The future of Irish international aid charity Goal has been called into question by auditors.

In a report, Deloitte said there was "material uncertainty" over its future due to a dependence on donors for funds.

The Irish Independent has learned the charity's funding for 2017 is expected to be just over half of the €210m it received from donors in 2015.

Goal general manager Celine Fitzgerald said the agency had a major battle on its hands to regain the confidence of donors after its Syrian aid programme became embroiled in an investigation into allegedly fraudulent procurement practices.

The cut in funding will lead to the closure of programmes in India, Nepal, Yemen and Ukraine during 2017.

In a report on the charity's financial statements for 2015, Deloitte said "conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt over the company's ability to continue as a going concern".

However, Goal's board said it was satisfied the accounts could be prepared on the basis the charity was a going concern.

Ms Fitzgerald said most of the organisation's major donors will continue to fund it in 2017. But the amounts involved will be less than before, meaning it will have to significantly reduce the level of its operations.

"Our continued sustainability is entirely dependent on continued funding from donors. If anything were to happen in 2017 to affect that, there would be a risk around the organisation," said Ms Fitzgerald. She said she believed the main reasons for the reductions were "issues arising from the investigation".

However, she also sought to allay concerns about Goal's future. "As long as donors continue to provide funding for our programmes, Goal is sustainable. I think the auditors and the board were satisfied that, with all the information we have at this point in time, Goal is sustainable for the year, albeit at a smaller level."

The charity announced last week it would be shedding 25 jobs, one-fifth of its office operations in Dublin and London.

It receives most of its funding from the aid arms of the US, Irish and British governments.

Probe

Last April, it was rocked by news the Office of the Inspector General in the US was investigating allegations of bid-rigging by suppliers to Goal and other humanitarian organisations working in Turkey and Syria.

The ongoing probe is focused on the activities of individuals on the ground and there is no suggestion of any involvement by senior management.

Two Turkish-based Goal staff were fired after the probe was launched. Goal and other agencies were ordered to halt procurement by USAID, the US government's foreign aid arm. Irish Aid also suspended around €7m in funding, but the suspension has since been lifted.

Goal chief executive Barry Andrews stepped down in the aftermath of the controversy, to be replaced by Ms Fitzgerald.

The accounts reveal the former head of Goal USA, Mark Bartolini, earned between €220,000 and €229,999 in 2015.

In comparison, Mr Andrews had an annual salary of €95,000 with a €20,000 pension contribution, while Ms Fitzgerald's package is worth €100,000.

Mr Bartolini resigned last October and the US office was shut as part of the downsizing of the organisation.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News