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Former HAJ boss defends stewardship of sacked management team

Published:Wednesday | July 13, 2016 | 5:03 PM
Karl Bennett argues that the sacked previous management team was being unfairly blamed.

Former Managing Director of the Housing Agency of Jamaica, Karl Bennett, is seeking to defend the stewardship of senior managers who were fired from the agency amid claims of mismanagement.

The Managing Director, the Director of Technical Services and the Senior Managers with responsibility for Construction and Finance and Information as well as the Company Secretary were sacked with immediate effect last week.

The new board of the agency said it had no choice but to act as the agency had reported losses of over 2 billion dollars over the past three years.

But in a release this afternoon, the former managing director said the management was being unfairly blamed.

Bennett argues that most of the outgoing management team had only been in place since January 2014, while other senior management had been in place for less than six months.

READ: Five senior managers at Housing Agency of Jamaica fired

He says significant losses have been accumulating at the HAJ for years before the tenure of the recent management team and the previous Board. 

Bennett also says the fired managers inherited over 608 million dollars in losses in fiscal year 2013/2014. 

He says by the end of the last financial year, this was reduced by 87.9 per cent.

In addition, Bennett says questionable, irrevocable decisions and construction contracts were in place before the tenure of the sacked management team.

He says the that his management team started no new projects as it had directed efforts at closing existing greenfield projects that were started in 201.

In the meantime, Bennett says the managers from which he took over had not been accounting for known losses on some projects during the years in which they occurred which allowed them to receive performance incentives since the company showed a profit.

But Bennett says when provision was made by his team for these losses in 2015/2016, it gave the appearance that the members of his team were responsible for the losses.