Mon | Nov 19, 2018

Broadcasting Commission a model agency

Published:Tuesday | August 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:I read with concern an article in last Wednesday's Gleaner, July 30, 2014, titled 'Does anyone care about how public funds are spent?' authored by someone signing under what appears to be the pseudonym 'A.C. Count', guest columnist.

Upon reading the article, the first question that came to mind was: Does this writer at The Gleaner care about public journalism? The article lists at least six public enterprises, gratuitously naming chairmen and chief executive officers, and in each case upbraiding them for some failure to provide required public accounting information on their entities.

This curious article alleged that the Broadcasting Commission's last available report was at March 2012. It accused the commission of failing to hold itself accountable for its financial performance and suggested that the named leadership of the commission should "hang their heads in shame". The article reflected no thoughtful journalistic investigation of alleged failures, and appears to be ignorant of the processes applicable to the submission of public accounts.

In the case of the Broadcasting Commission, for which I hold some public responsibility, it should be noted that our accounting submissions are entirely up to date, including for the 2013-2014 accounts. Using the past five years as an illustration, the commission's accountability performance has been as follows:

2013-2014 annual report due on July 31, 2014 - submitted to Office of the Prime Minister, on July 30, 2014.

2012-2013 annual report due on July 31, 2013 - submitted to Office of the Prime Minister, on July 30, 2013.

2011-2012 annual report due on July 31, 2012 - submitted to Office of the Prime Minister, on July 31, 2012.

2010-2011 annual report due on July 31, 2011 - submitted to Office of the Prime Minister, on July 29, 2011.

2009-2010 annual report due on July 31, 2010 - Submitted to Office of the Prime Minister, on August 20, 2010.

It is clear that the commission is one of the public bodies routinely submitting our budgets, accounts and corporate plans on time over several years. The following extracts from recent letters to the commission should be of interest:

Extract from a Ministry of Finance letter dated June 11, 2014 signed by Ann-Marie Rhoden for financial secretary:

"The Ministry of Finance and Planning (MOFP) commends the BCJ for submitting its corporate plan and budget for financial year 2014-15 within the timeline stipulated under Section 7 of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act (PBMA) Act."

Extract from OPM Permanent Secretary's letter dated June 20, 2014:

"I join with the MOFP in congratulating the commission for meeting the timelines for delivery of its reports and encourage you to have the commission maintain this level of compliance."

I hope this explanation has laid to rest any ill-conceived notion that the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica is failing in its public duty of financial accountability.