JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Devon Rowe, is urging strict adherence by the government’s Audit Commissionto ensure that state agencies and entities conform to the governance framework legislated for their operations.
  • "We all have a role to play in this fight and the audit committees have been strategically placed to enforce these principles of accountability, probity, and transparency,”
  • The Financial Secretary commended all stakeholders, whom he said, have “become part of the governance framework” and have “stayed the course”, despite challenges arising.

Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Devon Rowe, is urging strict adherence by the government’s Audit Commission and its affiliated committees to the principles of accountability, probity, and transparency.

This, to ensure that state agencies and entities conform to the governance framework legislated for their operations.

Mr. Rowe contended that having a “robust” monitoring and governance mechanism is necessary to ensure that the government and country “stay the course” to provide the requisite support for the four-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which has seen Jamaica passing the first review test for the April to June quarter.

Speaking at the Commission’s annual conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on Tuesday, October 15, the Financial Secretary said in the administration’s thrust for growth, under the economic reform programme, the governance structure has to be “solid with little or no opportunity for error.”

“As a result, all components of the governance machinery have to be activated in order to prevent the misuse of government resources, prevent waste, and fight or eliminate corruption. We all have a role to play in this fight and the audit committees have been strategically placed to enforce these principles of accountability, probity, and transparency,” he stated.

The Financial Secretary pointed out that Jamaica is constantly being graded internationally in terms of the level and extent of implementation, monitoring, and follow-up of internal and external audit procedures. He stressed that if Jamaica is to remain “credible” in this regard, “audit committees must continue to execute on their mandate.”

Mr. Rowe noted that the conference’s theme: ‘Recalibrating Your Audit Committee: Performance at the Next Level’, is “quite apt”, relative to “where we are currently.” He warned that if international grading for public finance monitoring is negative, this can “impact badly” on the government’s credibility, “and conflicts with our fundamental principles of governance.”

“Indeed, you (audit commission and committees) are being depended on to ensure that these principles are upheld. Your vigilance, critical analysis, and expert knowledge will assist in ensuring that the organisations operate in keeping with the operating procedures and practices. But though I stress the need to ensure accountability and transparency, we must also ensure that not only are things being done right, but that the right things are being done,” he said.

The Financial Secretary commended all stakeholders, whom he said, have “become part of the governance framework” and have “stayed the course”, despite challenges arising.

He described their commitment as “testament to your dedication to ensuring that the principles that embody our corporate governance (structure) are adhered to.” He also pledged the Ministry’s “full and continued support” to the commission in the execution of its mandate.

“So as you seek to recalibrate your audit committees and performance at the next level, please also consider means to strengthen outputs for improving the performance of the entities to which you are attached, bearing in mind relevant risk mitigation considerations,” Mr. Rowe urged.

Over 50 private and public sector members of the 31 active committees, currently under the purview of the Audit Commission, as well as other accounting officers, attended Tuesday’s conference, where they were addressed by several other speakers, and participated in a number of sessions.

Other speakers included: National Integrity Action (NIA) Executive Director, Professor Trevor Monroe; Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Audley Shaw; Audit Commission Chairman, Leighton McKnight; and Deputy Chairman, Collin Greenland.

Topics covered in the sessions held included:  ‘Building an Effective Audit Committee’; ‘Bridging the Communication  Gaps’; ‘Audit Committees: Strategies for Success’; ‘Understanding the Public Procurement Process’; ‘Analyzing Financial Statements’; ‘Professional Skepticism and Professional Judgment’; and ‘Ethics in Corporate Governance’.

The Audit Commission, which falls under the Ministry of Finance and Planning, was first established on April 12, 2005, as an independent body charged with the responsibility of ensuring the continued effectiveness of the audit committees by monitoring their performance against the appropriate regulation.

The Commission was enacted as a body corporate in 2009, consequent on amendments to the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act, which resulted in the statutory establishment of its functions and authority.

It was reconstituted on July 1, 2011, with six members duly appointed by the Governor-General, and the Solicitor General or his designate being an ex officio member.