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Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson Miller has said that the Ministry would be implementing the 21 recommendations laid out in the Contractor General’s report on the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking in the House on July 27, where she tabled the recommendations, as well as the report of the Auditor General’s findings on the NSWMA.
She informed that four of the recommendations had already been applied, eight were in the process of being implemented and the new NSWMA Board had been instructed to put the other measures in place.
The Minister said all contracts awarded by the Authority were now being reviewed and a comprehensive retraining programme was underway for managers at the agency. The managers are to be re-trained in Government Procurement, Public Sector Accountability and the Financial Administration and Audit Act.
She also indicated that some of the measures would extend to other government agencies that fell within the ambit of the Ministry.
“The Ministry is continuing its monitoring system of all the nine entities of the Ministry. This includes the presentation of timely monthly reports and the inclusion of the corporate plan activities in the budget. We are strengthening the Audit and Planning Department of the Ministry to enable random and periodic visits by officers of the Ministry to the entities,” she stated.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said further, that the Ministry’s Procurement Committee would be strengthened to serve as a centralised committee for all its agencies. The Contractor General’s Report also recommended that the functions of the Executive Director be separated from that of the Chairman of the Board; and that the Ministry invite the Auditor General to undertake a complete financial audit of the Authority. Both have been done.
The agency has come under scrutiny recently amid claims of mismanagement and improper administration of finances. Earlier this year, the Local Government Minister ordered the Contractor General to undertake a thorough investigation of the Authority for the period 2002-2005. The reports by Auditor General and the Contractor General, pointed to procedural breaches at the NSWMA in the awarding of contracts amounting to $1.96 billion. Responding to that and other issues raised in the reports, Minister Simpson Miller said it would not be business as usual.
“The government will not tolerate any flagrant disregard for the policies, procedures and regulations, which underpin the operations of the government,” she stated. She pointed out however that the Contractor General’s report stated categorically, that there was no evidence that the Authority’s officers used their positions for personal gain.
Among the other recommendations are that the Ministry must conduct a comprehensive review of all employment contracts to address inconsistencies with government employment policy and procedures; undertake an independent management audit of the NSWMA to include detailed review of the Directors of Finance, Corporate Services, Planning and Research as well as the Internal Auditor.