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ACB $10m travel bill

Published:Wednesday | November 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

A.C. Countz, Gleaner Columnist

Responsible officials

Minister: Derrick Kellier

State minister: Luther Buchanan

Permanent secretary: Donovan Stanberry

Directors: Undisclosed

The last accounts for the Agricultural Credit Board (ACB) are audited by Grant Thornton for the period ending March 31, 2013.

The preparation of accounts and the audit took over 15 months from the yearend! The accompanying annual report is not yet available.

During the year, ACB received a government grant of almost $40 million, earned $2m of interest and had administrative expenses of $41m.

The expense item that appears far too high is travelling - $10m. This is over one-third of the salary bill. Where are all these trips going to and from?

The ACB was established in 1960 with the main objectives being to monitor and regulate the National People's Co-operative Bank (NPB), which has some 37 branches, and the USAID dairy loan scheme.

It is difficult to understand how this agency can carry out these important oversight activities but cannot put out current financials. During the full year, there does not appear to have been even one dollar of receipts or payments on the USAID dairy scheme.

The Ministry of Agriculture has not given us sight of the NPB accounts, but suggest that at the 2012 yearend there were $1.5 billion of loan funds available (DBJ $1b, plus NPB $489m). The NPB appears to have $2.2b of savings from members and some $1b of investments.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donovan Stanberry, in spite of a request, has not named the directors of NPB. Indeed, he has failed to provide a wide range of information about the entities that answer to his ministry as requested by letter to the ministry dated August 4, 2014.

Do Ministers Kellier and Buchanan not feel embarrassment about the lack of accountability in their ministry?

This column will next write and ask for access to the accounts of the National People's Co-operative Bank.

ODPEM accounts in good order

Responsible Officials

Minister: Noel Arscott

Board of directors: Jahlil
Dabdoub, Jr (chairman), Carl Thomas (vice-chairman), Mayor Brenda
Ramsay, Frederick Whyte, Father Burchell McPherson, Henry McCurdy,
Colonel Daniel Pryce, Horace Reid, Leon Jarrett, John Valentine, and JFB
Commissioner, ex officio.

Last accounts and annual report: March 2002

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is responsible for disaster management in Jamaica.

The ODPEM is headed by a board of management appointed by the prime minister.

In 2013, it received $231m from Government and donations of $53m, and generated a surplus after certain transfers of $82m.

ODPEM still has small amounts of grants not paid out relating to the 2007 and 2008 hurricanes Dean and Gustav. Why?

We await the 2014 accounts and invite Chairman Laurence Adamson and former Director General Ronald Jackson to let us have these soonest.

The audited accounts by KPMG appear in good order and the annual report is well put together and makes for an interesting read.

The staff enjoys a defined-benefit scheme that is generous and needs review.

The director general received $5.9m in 2013.

Fire Brigade inadequately equipped and manned

The annual report for the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is a useful document that analyses the work of the fire commission in great and useful detail.

The JFB made a loss of $21 million in 2012 (2011: $137 million loss).

The 2012 improvement was due in large part to an increased government subvention.

Some of JFB's resources were used to make advanced payments on salary of $13.8 million. The travel expenses of $191 million appear extremely high.

The statutory deductions are not being paid on a current basis. The unpaid amount, $168 million, is up substantially from 2011.

The brigade operates its own defined contribution pension scheme. It has a staff complement of 1,905 (1,643 uniformed).

The fire fleet of 117 vehicles includes 78 emergency vehicles and 39 support vehicles. There are 43 general purpose/pumper fire units, 23 of which were purchased in 2006, while the others are older - ranging in age from 15 to 21 years.

The older units are unreliable and the current firefighting fleet is insufficient. There is also a shortage of uniformed staff of approximately 300.

The fire brigade responds, on average, to 40 calls a day. Almost 50 per cent of the calls are in response to bush fires.

There has been a reduction in false calls for Kingston and St Andrew, St James and St Catherine.

The fire commissioner received annual compensation of $4.8 million and the board chairman $50,000.

We await the early submission of the 2013 and 2014 accounts from JFB and Chairman Jahlil Dabdoub.

This column reviews the audited and in-house accounts and reports of companies and entities owned or influenced by Government.

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