Mon | Nov 30, 2020

UDC to provide documents on land transfer to auditor general

Published:Saturday | October 24, 2020 | 12:11 AM

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has admitted that some of its annual reports are outstanding and has blamed the delay on “unresolved property and financial transactions, which have led to major impairments of its balance sheet”.

The Gleaner reported on Tuesday that the Auditor General’s Department (AuGD) had stated in July that it had suspended an audit of the public body because it could not get information to proceed.

“The audit report has been suspended due to outstanding information from UDC related to audited financial statements, annual reports, valuation reports, as well as the transfer of lands to the Jamaica North-South Highway Company,” states a July 6 post on the AuGD’s website.

In a news release yesterday, the UDC said that since July 2017, the public entity has been documenting “our concerns about key external matters that affected the completion of the 2016-17 financials and annual report. Since that time, there have been ongoing discussions with our external auditors and the Ministry of Finance and the public sector to address these matters, some of which have been sufficiently resolved to allow for the completion of financials and annual reports in a retroactive and chronological order, as is required”.

The large public body, which employs more than 1,000 persons, states that the annual reports, including audited financials for UDC subsidiary companies, have been outstanding since 2012-13 for the Caymanas Development Company, and since 2013-14 for the Runaway Bay Water Company and the Ocho Rios Commercial Centre. The annual report for the St Ann Development Company has been outstanding since 2014-15.

The UDC and its subsidiaries, in keeping with the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, are required to submit annual reports, inclusive of audited financials, within four months of the close of each financial year.

The corporation, which is Jamaica’s main urban and rural development agency, said it has appointed a dedicated team to manage the process with a deadline for completion of all reports by the end of the current financial year.

Commenting on outstanding matters for the completion of the auditor general’s performance audit, the UDC said it has had ongoing correspondence with the AuGD to complete this review.

In July, the UDC said it had communicated with the AuGD regarding questions related to lands transferred to the Jamaica North-South Highway Company as per a 2015 Cabinet decision and included audited financial statements for 2017-18 and in-house financials for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

“Though the UDC’s management was not notified by the AuGD of the constraints to complete the process, follow-up with their team on October 20, 2020, confirmed the outstanding documentation, which will be packaged and submitted within the week,” the corporation stated.

In its news release, the UDC said that its board and management were “committed to transparency, accountability, and good governance, which have been key areas of focus over the past few years”.

The UDC, which manages billions of dollars in state assets, falls under the Andrew Holness-run Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.