For Immediate Release
NIA calls on all responsible citizens:
· To speak out against improper and unlawful conduct in the management of public funds (as documented in recent official reports)
· Demand accountability from public bodies
· Insist on sanctions being applied against individuals found to be in breach of laws and regulations
The recent official reports are:
· The Annual Report of the Auditor General 2013/2014 in respect of National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA): "NSWMA failed to table ten years Audited Financial Statements and Annual Reports in the Houses of Parliament". This failure breaches sections 12 and 13 of the NSWMA Act which requires such reports to be tabled annually so that the Parliament, the media and the public may know what is going on with the finances of NSWMA.
· The NSWMA failure is also in breach of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, section 3 (3) which require the submission of Annual Reports and Audited Financial Statements. This Act ( section 25, (1) (a)) empowers the Attorney General to apply to bring before the Courts persons found in contravention of this section. This needs to be done in relation to all contraventions of the PBMA
· Office of the Contractor General (OCG) Investigation Report, February 2014 re NSWMA. This report documented the award of contracts "to unregistered contractors" and in an "irregular manner" in 2007/2008.
· Office of the Contractor General (OCG) Investigation Report, Hanover Parish Council (March, 2015). The OCG concludes "that there were instances of nepotism, favouritism and conflicts of interest involved in recommendations for the award of government contracts to relatives and persons affiliated with Ms. Shernette Haughton (then Mayor of Lucea). In some instances, "a complete verification of works executed is not conducted by the Hanover Parish Council".
· OCG Special Investigation Report, St. Thomas Parish Council (March 2015). The OCG concluded that "the award of contracts to One Touch Tours and Equipment Ltd by the St. Thomas Parish Council were in breach of section (4) of the OCG Act and the then applicable GHPPP" (November 2, 2008). Further the OCG concludes that this irregular award had "the potential to cause great and inordinate danger to human life … amounts to an egregious disregard for public safety and welfare".
NIA commends the Auditor General and the Office of the Contractor General for their courage and professionalism in reporting abuse in fulfilment of their roles as watchdogs over the proper use of public funds.
At the same time, despite these documented breaches of law and irregularity in the management of tax payers' money, no public officer responsible has been prosecuted, brought before the courts and/or fined for unlawful conduct. This is unacceptable, especially when other Jamaicans are being prosecuted, brought before the courts, fined and/or imprisoned for what on the face of it are lesser offences. The continuing impunity of so many persons in authority shall only be eliminated when the broadest cross section of responsible citizens and organisations – including the church, the private sector, professional associations, trade unions, youth and student bodies – demand that in these times of austerity taxpayers money must be prudently managed and the rule of law applied to one and all regardless of position.
Trevor Munroe (Professor)