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BSJ performance audit not on the cards at this time - Auditor General

Published:Tuesday | December 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

While indicating her department was willing to conduct a performance audit into the operations of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said yesterday that she could not give a precise timeline as to when such an audit would be done.

Opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw on Sunday repeated his call for the auditor general to carry out an urgent performance audit of the standards body.

Monroe Ellis told The Gleaner that her department was currently preparing its operational plan for the New Year and was in the process of completing its audits for 2014.

"It is one that we will now look at our resources to see if we can deploy. We also have other pressing matters to pursue in the New Year. It's not a matter of if it can be done, it's a matter of when," she said.


Asked to comment on questions raised about the department's competence to conduct an audit of the BSJ, Monroe Ellis said it was a reasonable assertion, noting that there were instances in which her department turned down requests to carry out audits because of competence issues.

"If as an auditor I do not believe I have the competence to make certain assessments, I am not going to do it. We are not going to get into a technical area for which we don't have the expertise," the auditor general explained.

However, she pointed out that in the past the department had had to draw on resources in the industry to assist it in completing its audit.

"If it is an area where I don't have the expertise, what I do for performance audit is that I have a focus group where I invite the stakeholders to come and sit at the table and we have an open discussion and they will share their views on the issues that are confronting a specific sector. We do not share our findings with them but we tend to direct the discussion in a particular way to get the experts' views on it."

She made it clear that international auditing standards require that the auditing body must be properly constituted to reflect the complexity of the audit and to ensure that the necessary skills set is in place to undertake the audit.

Shaw had complained that there was a shortage of qualified technicians and inspectors to adequately discharge the full mandate of the BSJ, as well as the inactive status of the non-metallic laboratory leading to critical products not being tested, including textiles, plastics, toys, shoes, matches, and car batteries, among other things.

Despite their denials, he charged that the responses from the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the managing director of the BSJ and the chairman of the BSJ, were inadequate.