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Surcharge penalty looms over Civil Aviation payout

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Kevon Stephenson
Kevon Stephenson

The Auditor General’s Department is expected to review a recommendation by the Integrity Commission for a surcharge to be slapped on an unnamed officer at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA).

The surcharge could be imposed on the officer for his/her role in approving payment of $632,000 to Ray Campbell & Associates Ltd “for their efforts” with respect to the design of the air traffic control towers at the Norman Manley and Sangster international airports.

The recommendation came from director of investigations at the Integrity Commission, Kevon Stephenson, in a 215-page report to Parliament on Tuesday.

The report, among other things, investigated a sole-source contract awarded to Intelcan Techno Systems Incorporated for the design and construction of air traffic control towers at both international airports in Jamaica.

In his report, Stephenson argued that the payment was outside of the scope of works of the contract and, as such, money paid to Ray Campbell Limited was not in keeping with prudent financial management of entrusted public funds, or in line with the provisions of the Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAA).

“Accordingly, it is recommended that this matter be examined by the auditor general and/or the Ministry of Finance with a view to determining whether surcharge procedures should be applied and/or any other action deemed relevant in the circumstances,” the report stated.

The FAA Act (Section 20-24) allows the auditor general to recommend to the financial secretary that a surcharge be laid against an officer who had been responsible for any improper payment of public monies or for any payment that was not duly vouched.

The director of investigations reported that the minutes of the meeting of the board of the JCAA, held on Wednesday, January 31, 2007, recorded, among other things, that Ray Campbell & Associates had produced a plan from which a detailed architectural design for the tower could be developed and had subsequently submitted an invoice in the amount of $1.5 million that represented its billing to date.

Then director general of the JCAA, Lt Col Oscar Derby, reported that the JCAA held a meeting with Ray Campbell & Associates, which was under the assumption that it would be given the contract to build a tower.

Derby explained that Ray Campbell & Associates was asked to provide a cost for a 45m structure for a tower cabin. The company instead operated outside the scope of works given by the JCAA.

Subsequently, the cost for the work done was computed by the JCAA’s internal auditor and the legal officer, and it was agreed that the company should be paid $632,000 for its efforts. A new invoice for this amount was resubmitted by the company.

Commenting on the engagement of Ray Campbell & Associates by the JCAA for the preparation of ‘project costing’ regarding the new air traffic control towers, Stephenson concluded that the absence of a written contract was a breach of the Government of Jamaica Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures (2008).

The procedures mandate that in the award and signing of contracts for goods, works, and services, provisions should be made to establish the structure and content of contracts for the procurement of same.

editorial@gleanerjm.com