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PM wants more answers on Port Authority pensions controversy

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Andrew Holness

AFTER RECEIVING a report from the board and management of the Port Authority of Jamaica in response to unauthorised pension payments at the state agency, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has fired off more questions for the company's principals to answer by the time he returns from overseas next Friday, where he will make a presentation to the United Nations.

Information Minister Ruel Reid told journalists yesterday that Holness had requested a report from the Port Authority, but after reviewing the response, the prime minister has raised additional questions for the entity to answer.

"Once we have had a full response on this matter from the board and management team, a report will be made to the nation in Parliament by the prime minister," Reid said during a post-Cabinet press briefing.

According to Reid, after the Port Authority responds to the prime minister's concerns, the Cabinet will review the response. He said the prime minister would address the country on the controversial pension/gratuity issue that sparked national debate following the release of an audit by the Auditor General's Department into the operations of the Port Authority of Jamaica.


$100 million pension


In July, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis reported that a senior officer who worked with the Port Authority of Jamaica had received three pension benefits, including a "golden handshake" valued at more than $100 million.

In total, the senior officer walked away with pension and gratuity amounting to approximately $146 million.

In a special audit of the Port Authority of Jamaica, which was tabled in Parliament in July, the auditor general said the employment contracts for 14 senior officers at the public body provided for the payment of a retirement benefit in addition to gratuity of 25 per cent.

However, the policy of the Ministry of Finance dictates that gratuity payments are made in lieu of pension or retirement benefits and are calculated on basic pay only.