Chung: NSWMA achievement not given its due
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) is preening after its announcement last week that for the first time since 2004 its audited accounts are now current.
"Surprisingly, this has not received a lot of media coverage, but it is a remarkable achievement for an organisation like the NSWMA. It means that there is greater transparency and Jamaicans are better able, as taxpayers, to finally understand what their tax resources are being used for," said Dennis Chung, chairman of the NSWMA.
"This signal achievement also means that, as said repeatedly by this board, that we are serious about proper corporate governance," added Chung.
This was emphasised at the press conference last week where the NSWMA team stated that proper corporate governance and the prudent use of taxpayers monies was a priority item.
According to Chung, in supporting the principles of good governance and the importance of financial information, the board also emphasised the role of the audit subcommittee and the efforts to improve its internal control systems.
He noted that the NSWMA also reported a savings of more than $40 million resulting from an audit into the use of gas cards.
"This despite adding more vehicles to the fleet. I cannot recall when this has been achieved by another public-sector body," said Chung.
He admitted that there was work to be done with respect to better garbage collection across the island, as the coverage was not where it should be.
Chung further accepted that the dumps are inadequate as they stand and remain a menace to the society in the state they are in.
"If there is an Achilles heel that the NSWMA faces, it is the condition of, and the risks associated with, the dumps across the island. The fact is that they are inadequate and need to be fixed once and for all.
"We cannot afford more fires that will continue to put the health of the public and productivity at risk. These fires have cost the country too much over the years," declared Chung.
He argued that while the dumps have been improved to minimise the risk of fires, this risk will not be removed until something is done, like the long-running privatisation process.
The agency has had to deal with about the 11 fires across the island in 2018, most said to be by arsonists.
"Though I am happy to see the efforts being made by the NSWMA to secure the dumps, the ultimate solution seems to be the promised privatisation. This must be treated with urgency," said Chung.