Thu | Jan 17, 2019

AG Monroe Ellis says no to local government meeting

Published:Monday | January 14, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis

The hope of a meeting between representatives from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis, which was set for today to discuss concerns they have with the report that was tabled in Parliament recently, has hit a snag.

Instead, Monroe Ellis said that her department will be writing to the local government ministry, urging it to put any concerns it has in writing as it relates to an audit on the rental of facilities at Hagley Park Road in Kingston, as she was not willing to meet with ministry officials.

Monroe Ellis told The Gleaner that her department would not be meeting with officials from the ministry today as stated by the ministry.

She said there was a misunderstanding about the purpose of the meeting.

According to the auditor general, a final draft report was submitted to the ministry giving it an opportunity to respond to any concerns in the audit.

However, she said that on December 10, the ministry issued a response to the audit, which was taken into consideration when the final report was prepared for tabling in Parliament.

 

RAISE CONCERNS

 

"The audit was not done overnight," Monroe Ellis said, indicating that the ministry had sufficient time to raise concerns and challenge its findings.

In a release to the media, the ministry pointed to what it said are inaccuracies in some statements in the draft auditor general report, which was submitted to Parliament two weeks ago.

The ministry was taken to task over the report, which outlined a $30-million cost overrun in relation to tardy renovation work on the ministry's rented premises on Hagley Park Road.

"The ministry is therefore surprised and concerned that a report would have been tabled in the House of Representatives prior to these issues being resolved," said a statement from the ministry's communications and public relations department.

It noted the ministry's "commitment to the highest standards of accountability and probity in the expenditure of public funds.

"Where genuine errors or inadequacies are pointed out by competent authorities, the ministry is also committed to immediate correction and improvements".

According to the release, the public should note that it is also the case that there has been a process of consistent dialogue with the Auditor General's Department during the course of its investigations, and a number of the statements in the draft report asserted as fact are disputed and considered inaccurate by the ministry.

The statement further said that the ministry had communicated its concerns in this regard to the team assigned by the Auditor General's Department.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com