Fri | Jan 24, 2020

MOE being audited amid claims of corruption

Published:Tuesday | March 19, 2019 | 12:32 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips with Opposition Spokesman on Finance Mark Golding addressing the media at a post-Budget press conference held at the People’s National Party headquarters, Old Hope Road, in St Andrew, yesterday.

The Education ministry is one of two state agencies that are now the subject of separate performance audits being conducted by the Auditor General’s Department (AGD).

The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is the other agency.

The audits, according to information posted on the AGD’s official website, are focused on adherence to the Government’s procurement guidelines and contracts management.

“The performance audit will provide an indication as to whether the selected public entities procurement and contracts management activities were conducted to attain value for money (which encompasses the achievement of economy, efficiency and effectiveness),” the Pamela Monroe Ellis-led agency explained on its website.

“The audit will also seek to assess compliance with applicable procurement guidelines,” AGD continued.

Attempts yesterday to get a comment from Education Minister Ruel Reid were unsuccessful.

Confirmation of the audit comes as the parliamentary Opposition revealed yesterday that it has reports of misuse of public funds and corruption at the education ministry and suggested that it was equivalent to the scandal uncovered at Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery.

‘Politically connected’ workers

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips, speaking during a post-Budget press conference, said the allegations are related directly to Caribbean Maritime University and the use of funds sent to the ministry by the HEART Trust for the Career Advancement Programme, as well as the Technical, Vocational, Educational and Training (T-VET) Rationalisation Project.

Phillips charged, too, that “politically connected” persons have been employed by the education ministry as advisers, “but are not doing any work.”

“We have information regarding the same set of issues, issues of cronyism, nepotism and corruption, which were manifested spectacularly in the Petrojam scandal, being also present in the Ministry of Education,” he said, during a press conference at the People’s National Party St Andrew headquarters.

“We are very concerned about the reports we are receiving about transactions being undertaken in the Ministry of Education,” Phillips added.

The Opposition leader called on the AGD to investigate the agencies involved and report to the Parliament and the people of Jamaica.

There is no indication when the audits of the education ministry and the JCF began, but according to the AGD, they were being conducted simultaneously with the Petrojam performance audit and were slated to be completed by December last year.

Monroe Ellis had explained in her 2018 annual report that some resources had been pulled from other investigations and redirected to Petrojam, to complete the audit which was tabled in Parliament in December last year.