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JSIF, COJ well-run but Board of Supervision two decades behind

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 11:00 AMA.C. Countz

Responsible Officials

Minister: Noel Arscott

Acting Permanent Secretary: Dionne Hennings

Minister of Local Government ?and Community Development Noel Arscott operates a good website for his Ministry.

However, he, and the Office of the Prime Minister under which the ministry falls, should explain to the public why there are no accounts for the Board of Supervision since 1995 - almost 20 years.

No new board has been appointed since 2006. Surely, someone should be disciplined for this incredibly bad performance.

Other important public entities that fall under the ministry show little respect for public accountability:

n Social Development Fund: Last accounts 2001; no chairman since Paul Burke resigned;

n National Solid Waste Management Authority: Chairman Steve Ashley, CEO Jennifer Edwards - last accounts 2002;

n Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management: Chairman Laurence Adamson, CEO Richard Thompson - last accounts 2012-13;

n Jamaica Fire Brigade: Chairman Jahlil Dabdoub Jr, CEO Errol Mowatt - last accounts 2013.

JSIF gets the job done

Responsible Officials

Chairman: Colin Bullock

Managing Director: Scarlette Gillings

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has almost $440 million of cash and cash equivalent. All of these funds appear committed to the many projects that this well-run organisation promotes.

The managing director, Scarlette Gillings, receives $10.1 million per annum.

The annual report lists some 88 projects that have been approved by the board in the year to March 2014. It lists another 150

subprojects that have been

completed in the 2014 period.

That is an impressive workload.

Companies Office - slightly tardy but appears well-run

Responsible Officials

Minister: G. Anthony Hylton

CEO and Registrar of Companies: Judith Ramlogan Advisory Board: Chairman Anthony Stewart Stephens, Andrea Cowan, Kimberly Atkinson, Kevin Taylor, Eric Hosin and Donovan Walker.

The last available accounts for Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) are for March 31, 2013.

We would expect a company with the regulatory responsibility of COJ to have their March 2014 accounts already published.

The accounts are audited by the auditor general who issued an unqualified report on July 24, 2013, four months after yearend.

The CEO earned $8.8 million.

Total income amounted to $294 million to produce a net surplus of $17 million, of which half - $8.4 million - was earmarked to be paid over to the accountant general in accordance with instructions issued to executive agencies.

The Ministry of Finance, which has an executive agency monitoring unit, allowed the COJ to retain the $20 million normally paid to the ministry from the prior year. This sum was to be used to procure a

better database to upgrade the COJ's information system.

The COJ is trying to establish an online system for the registration of companies in 10 member states within the Caribbean.

In 2013, the COJ earned

$48 million for late penalties charged on annual returns. The income from normal annual return filings fell to $76 million. There was a slight upturn in the income for new company registration.

The COJ is sitting on a positive net worth of $93 million, which is largely reflected in the $70 million of investment and cash.

During the year 2012, it made performance incentive payments to staff for three financial years.

It seems to be a well-run agency with target delivery times established and best practice followed for various activities.

It is still not up to the efficiency level of, say, the St Lucia company registration standards.

Youth ministry needs funds to bring audits up to date

We commend Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna for her ministry's recent response to our earlier column.

Following our column of November 5, Hanna's reply indicates that the Ministry of Finance has apparently set a deadline of December 2015 for all government agencies to bring their annual accounts up to date.

This is good news. Let's see if it happens.

The ministry also indicated that it is insufficiently staffed to do the necessary auditing and are apparently having problems getting the incremental funding to hire experts and to eliminate the backlog.

Perhaps the ministry should consider paring back some of their programmes to produce the necessary funding.

The ministry is correct in criticising this column for attributing certain comments to the minister. In fact, the comments came in a written response from her ministry.

The ministry previously inferred that their annual accounts cannot be sent out to the public until the audit is finished. This may have been the practice but it is a wrong practice.

The minister should ensure that all entities under her control make public their accounts on a current basis.

These accounts should be available whether or not the entity is an independent one or one that accounts for its finances within the ministry (or subsidiary) budget - for example, the National Gallery of Jamaica, Liberty Hall and the African Caribbean Institute/Jamaica Memory Bank.

This column reviews the audited and in-house accounts and reports of companies and entities owned or influenced by Government.

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