Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Missing in action - PAC not carrying out mandate

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Dr Peter Phillips
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.
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Despite a plethora of reports submitted by the Auditor General's Department to Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has responsibility for reviewing such reports, has not had a sitting since November 1, 2016.

The committee, chaired by Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, in his capacity as opposition spokesman on finance, has failed to carry out its duties as one of the most pivotal review committees of Parliament tasked with examining the reports of the Auditor General.

Phillips indicated recently that the question of the PAC resuming its sittings would soon be addressed when he names his new shadow cabinet.

The shadow cabinet, according to Phillips, would be known after the People's National Party selects a chairman to succeed Robert Pickersgill at a meeting of the National Executive Council held on Sunday.

The auditor general and her team of auditors are tasked with conducting independent audits in accordance with acceptable, professional and ethical standards and issue appropriate reports on the use of public resources.

 

GOLDEN HANDSHAKE

 

A special audit of the Port Authority of Jamaica in relation to alleged over payments of pension and gratuity to some former executives of the public body, which was tabled in Parliament on July 26, 2016, is still awaiting the committee's deliberations.

The Auditor General's Department had reported that a senior officer who worked with the Port Authority of Jamaica had received pension benefits, including a "golden handshake" valued at more than $100 million, in addition to gratuity amounting to $31.33 million covering the contract period November 2004 to October 2013.

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

The report had also highlighted that the employment contracts of 14 senior officers at the public body provided for the payment of a retirement benefit in addition to gratuity of 25 per cent.

The auditor general, in her recommendations, had said that in the absence of explicit approval from the finance ministry, the Port Authority should take steps to recover amounts overpaid in respect of retirement benefit and gratuity payments.

To date the PAC has not called a meeting to address the auditor general's concerns and it appears the issue remains unresolved.

 

REPORTS YET TO BE REVIEWED BY PAC

 

Below are a list of Auditor General's reports tabled in Parliament not yet reviewed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC):

- National Water Commission - Contract and Procurement Management, Capital Projects - September 17, 2017

- Performance Audit Report: Ministry of Health (MOH), South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) - Securing Value for Money from the Procurement of Goods and Services - May 30, 2017

- Performance Audit Report - Engagement of Consultants, Advisors and Assistants at Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Education, Youth and Information - May 30, 2017

- Performance Audit Report: Bureau of Standards (BSJ), Monitoring for Compliance - March 23, 2017

- Performance Audit Report of Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) Management of Construction Loan Portfolio - December 1, 2016

- Auditor General's Department Activity - Based Audit Report Early Childhood Commission - September 28, 2016

- Tax Administration of Jamaica - Property Tax Collections and Enforcement - July 1, 2016

- Auditor General's Department Special Audit Report - Port Authority of Jamaica - July 1, 2016

- Auditor General's Department Special Audit Report Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries - Cane Expansion Fund - September 14, 2016

- Auditor General's Department Financial Statement Assessment of Public Bodies - Petrojam Limited - September 14, 2016

- Auditor General's Department Financial Statement Assessment of Public Bodies - Development Bank of Jamaica Limited - September 14, 2016

- Auditor General's Report Financial Statement Assessment of Public Bodies - Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing - September 14, 2016

- Special Audit Report of the Road Maintenance Fund (RMF) - September 14, 2016

 

MEMBERS OF THE PAC

 

- Dr Phillips - Chairman

- Franklin Witter

- Clifford Warmington

- James Robertson

- Juliet Holness

- Leslie Campbell

- Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn

- Fitz Jackson

- Horace Dalley

- Lisa Hanna

- Mikael Phillips

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com