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Auditor General finds serious weaknesses at AIC

Published:Friday | December 27, 2013 | 7:10 PM

The Auditor General’s Department has revealed what it says are serious managerial weaknesses at the Agri-Investment Corporation (AIC) established to oversee Jamaica's agricultural assets.



In its 2013 annual report, the Auditor General’s Department says it identified a general lack of strategy towards the fulfillment of AIC’s mandate.



AIC was also cited in the report for making more than $202 million in unapproved payments.



The Auditor General says AIC withdrew moneys totalling $202.5 million from two accounts during the period March 2009 to January 2012.



Some $168.6 million was withdrawn from the Agricultural Support Services Productive Projects Fund Limited account and $33.9 million from the Agricultural Development Fund.



The Auditor General’s department says it noted that the contract of employment of one of the signatories to one of the accounts ended in February 2009.



But it says during the period July 2009 to November 2011, the individual was a signatory to 91 cheques valuing $112 million drawn on the account of the Agricultural Support Services Productive Projects Fund Limited.



The individual also signed documents authorising the encashment of investments amounting to $56.6 million from the company’s fixed deposit account during the period March 2009 to November 2011.



Meanwhile, the Auditor General’s department says the individual is still a signatory to the account and other accounts, despite the approval being granted by the Ministry of Finance in May 2013 to change the signatories.



And, the Auditor General says AIC is not earning enough to cover its costs to ensure self sustainability.



It says during financial years 2009-10 to 2012-13, AIC’s income covered, on average, less than 50 per cent of expenditure incurred.



The Auditor General's Department says AIC also incurred high operating expenditure, while being faced with challenges in collecting rent from delinquent tenants.



The Auditor General’s Department says the Ministry of Agriculture should review the capacity of AIC to effectively manage the properties under its stewardship.



And it says in the interim, urgent efforts should be made to collect all outstanding rents and a suitable basis of determining the tenant’s utility charges should be developed.



It also says AIC’s board should, in the shortest time, develop and implement appropriate measures to improve its financial position.



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