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NFPB well run but writing off a lot of contraceptives

Published:Wednesday | December 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Chairman of the National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight. - File

A.C. Countz, Gleaner Columnist

Congratulations to the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) for providing current unaudited accounts up to September 2014 and their last audited accounts/annual report for March 2014.

With this efficiency, no wonder Jamaica's birthrate has fallen so effectively over the years.

The agency also has a valuable website.

The NFPB accounts to March 2014 indicate that it received a grant of $80 million from the Government of Jamaica, donations of another $22 million, as well as income from distribution and sale of contraceptives amounting to $11 million. This was a dramatic fall from $24 million for contraceptive sales in 2013 - one wonders why?

NFPB is a statutory body started in 1970. Its principal activities include preparing and promoting family and population planning programmes in Jamaica. It does research, community outreach plus clinical and consulting services.

The board of directors is appointed by the Ministry of Finance and its activities are monitored by the Ministry of Health. This is unusual and it is not clear why two ministries are involved.

The board is exempt from income tax. Its auditor, Smith & Associates, has issued an unqualified audit report.

Fees paid to directors for 2014 were $843,000 - a relatively large reduction from the $1.7 million paid in 2013. The acting CEO earned $3.7 million. Thirty-four persons were employed to the agency.

There was an inventory of contraceptives carried at the end of accounting year 2014 valued at $13 million. Of this contraceptive inventory, $5.4 million was impaired or written off - $21 million was impaired in 2013.

One wonders why such a large proportion of the contraceptive inventory has to be written off each year. In 2013, the value of contraceptives written off was almost 90 per cent of the inventory value.

NFPB's funds seem to be largely invested through Proven Wealth Limited and Mayberry Investments Limited. These companies should pay NFPB for so prominently promoting their names in the audited accounts.

There are substantial receivables of over $10 million from the four regional health authorities who do not appear to be paying their bills on time. A provision has had to be made in 2014 for an amount of over $10 million for bad debts. The accounts do not indicate whether these are related to the four health centres or not.

There is an increasing practice of government agencies funding themselves by borrowing from other agencies. This is not a good practice as it negates government control of the allocation of funds.

The NFPB appears to be well run, with a board and management holding themselves to a high level of accountability and transparency.

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

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Responsible Officials

Ministers: Dr Peter Phillips and Dr Fenton Ferguson

Chairman: Dr Sandra Knight

Other Directors:
Wyatt Smythe, Joel Scott, Mario Mitchell, Donovan Brown, Yasmin
Williams, Nicola Skyers, Loverne George, Renee Johnson, Huntley Medley,
Alston Reid

Last accounts made available: September 2014