Damion Mitchell, Editor - Radio & Online
The Auditor General, Pamela Munroe Ellis, has uncovered worrying discrepancies at the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) which have resulted in the unauthorised payment of millions of dollars.
In her report tabled in parliament this afternoon, the Auditor General said the ECJ bench-marked the salaries of the director of elections and his deputy against the posts of the director general of the Office of Utilities Regulation and his deputy.
But the Auditor General said the ECJ did so without the permission of the Parliament or the minister with responsibility for electoral matters as required by law.
The auditor general says she found no reason for the bench-marking of the salaries especially since the OUR finances itself.
According to the Auditor General, the ECJ also disobeyed a directive of the Finance Ministry to pay the deputy director of elections at a certain level.
The disobedience resulted in the over-payment of $4.66 million from September 2010 to March 2012.
The Auditor General is recommending that urgent steps be taken to regularize the salary anomalies.
She also wants all over-payments to be paid back.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General has found that the ECJ failed to comply with the guidelines of the Finance Ministry on the payment of the security allowance for a senior employee.
Beyond that, the senior employee was not paying the requisite taxes as required by the guidelines.
At the same time, the Auditor General says since the ECJ began operating in 2006, it has not produced a set of audited financial statements as required by law.
It has also failed to ensure that all members of staff sign the Oath of Secrecy under the Electoral Commission (Interim) Act.
The Auditor General has made 18 recommendations she says must be urgently considered to fix the problems at the ECJ.
In the meantime, the director of elections, Orette Fisher, says the issue concerning his salary should be referred to the ECJ.
"As far as I am concerned, I'm not being paid in breach of any regulation," he said a short while ago.
Efforts to contact the outgoing ECJ chairman, Professor Errol Miller were unsuccessful.
The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre was informed that Miller is off the island.
Miller is expected to step-down from the chairmanship of the ECJ next month.
Itís expected that commission member, Dr Herbert Thompson will replace him.
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