CMU emergency meeting - Council urged to comply with best practices
An emergency meeting has been called for this week for members of the Caribbean Maritime University Council to discuss a deepening crisis at the scandal-scarred institution.
This comes amid the reported resignation of four persons from the council days after The Gleaner unveiled multiple instances of questionable spending and a plethora of gaps in its oversight role, according to a Special Audit Report.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis has also made a number of far-reaching recommendations to address the concerns and prevent a recurrence.
In her Special Audit Report, of which The Gleaner has seen a copy, the auditor general urged the CMU Council to establish a robust internal control and risk-management system to reduce the risk of losses and regulatory breaches at the institution. Further, she said that steps should be taken to strengthen controls over the management of CMU’s bank accounts to ensure that all transactions are authorised in keeping with approved limits.
The country’s guardian of public expenditure said that the council should also consider the appropriateness of maintaining 22 banks accounts, which presents an administrative challenge to efficiently monitor transactions across accounts, which was identified during the audit.
It was also recommended that the council immediately review its procurement practices in order to promote good-governance practices and the receipt of value for money.
The audit was conducted for the period 2016-17 to 2018-19. The audit was undertaken in response to public concerns regarding allegations of malpractice at CMU.
The auditor general sought to assess whether CMU’s operations, activities, governance, and monitoring framework were consistent with the principles of good financial management and whether procurement and contract-management practices were in keeping with Government of Jamaica’s guidelines and best practices to attain value for money.
According to the auditor general, the council did not develop adequate internal controls, and it did not have in place a functioning Audit Committee and an internal auditor. This also deprived the council of independent audit assurance to assist in its oversight responsibilities.
Respective portfolio ministries did not undertake an independent audit as part of their governance responsibility.
The council did not faithfully submit minutes of its council meetings and quarterly and half-yearly reports to its portfolio ministry in keeping with Principle 15 of the Corporate Governance Framework for public bodies and the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act. And the auditor general said she saw no evidence that the parent ministry had demanded these reports from the council.
The 23-member strong council of the Caribbean Maritime University:
Appointment as at April 3, 2018 to April 2, 2020
1. Hyacinth Bennett - chairman
2. Fritz Pinnock – president, CMU
3. Ajagunna Ibrahim – Deputy president (now acting president)
4. Taneisha Ingleton
5. Denise Lynn-Fatt
6. Corah-Ann Robertson-Sylvester
7. Hortense Ross-Innerarity
8. Yvette Smith-Johnson
9. Emerson Alleyne
10 Noel Brown
11. Ainsworth Darby
12. Roger Hinds – resigned
13. Ishmael Leon
14. David Powell
15. Laren Vidal
16. Marjory Kennedy
17. Devon Gardner
18. Romaine Wallace
19. UTech representative
20. UWI Representative
Appointed as at August 27, 2018-April 2, 2020
21. Archibald McDonald
22. Colin Gyles
23. Dasmine Kennedy