The irregular collection of garbage in the corporate area in particular is not only nasty and disgusting but more significantly poses a health risk to all citizens. The usual refrain from the National Solid Waste Authority Management (NWSMA) is that they do not have enough resources from central government.
That would probably find favour with some persons who want to give the PNP administration a sympathetic nod. After all the economy of Jamaica has not only got worse since 2011, the economy has declined by 2 to 3 % since that time, but social services has fallen off significantly.
The President of the Medical Association of Jamaica has termed the health care of our nation a health crisis. Many Jamaicans are still grappling to this day with the lingering long term effects of chikungunya that has cost the county billions in lost productivity.
To tax and spend, a time worn PNP philosophy, will not add to the country’s stock of wealth but will add to the country’s stock of debt, leaving our children with all the more unpayable debt.
The minister’s spin doctoring of the final audit of the National Solid Waste Management Authority
The Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Noel Arscott, under whose jurisdiction the NSWMA falls, in a recent press interview at Jamaica House, said that the preliminary audit report of the NSWMA might be redundant. This was a preliminary audit report from last year September 2014 that had identified serious irregularities of some unaccounted $800 million dollars.
Within 24 hours of that press interview the final audit report of the NSWMA was disseminated and the serious irregularities had all not disappeared. And how about the timing of the press conference right in the holiest week of the year when maybe the Jamaican people will find some contrition in their hearts and forgive the Minister and his disingenuousness while they are distracted with the impending US president’s visit this week?
Back in 2011 in another preliminary audit of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JADIP) improper accounting methodology was found by the same Auditor-General and the Minister in charge of that programme was dismissed from his ministerial portfolio. Who can forget the opposition spokesman on Transport in 2011, Dr. Omar Davies in a highly animated state in parliament, waving the preliminary audit report of JADIP pontificating how ‘corrupt’ the JLP administration was?
The preliminary audit report of JADIP in 2011 did cast a pall of incompetence over the JLP administration and it hurt the JLP in the general election of December 2011. When the final audit report of JADIP had been disseminated there was no finding of irregularities after all but by then the general election 2011 had passed and the PNP was swept back into power.
Fast forward to 2015 and the fire at Riverton city burned for several days emitting noxious fumes all over the corporate area while the Minister of Local Government and Community Development stayed in Japan at a conference which clearly in his mind was more important than the jeopardizing of the health of thousands of Jamaican lives who he swore to serve faithfully and primarily…well maybe?
The Financial Administration and Audit Act (FAA) empowers the Minister to make regulations in relation to the financial management of public funds. The FAA also empowers the Minister to designate in writing public officers who shall be Accounting Officers of the departments specified.
With some $500 million dollars missing at the NSWMA in the period 2013-2014 this clearly demonstrates the absolute mayhem that operated at the NSWMA.
No confidence in the former Executive Director of the NSWMA
Surprisingly Jennifer Edwards’, former Executive director of the NSWMA, contract to continue acting as the Executive Director of the NSWMA, was not renewed at the end of March 2015. It was reported that the board of the NSWMA had lost confidence in her abilities in handling the latest Riverton City Dump mass fire.
The chairman of the board, Steve Ashley, stated on the Nationwide News Network (NNN), whose Chairmanship of the NSWMA was recently terminated, that he didn’t know of the irregularities in the preliminary report of Auditor General. It is almost impossible for the Chairman of a state entity to not know of such serious irregularities in the handling of public funds.
Steve Ashley went on to say that he had little if any comment on the matter. The missing of some $500 million dollars of public funds in only a period of one year is not a ‘no comment issue’. As chairman of a state entity board he was highly incompetent in chairing such gross irregularities. Is there no accountability in this administration?
It was also reprehensible that persons trained in solid waste management were terminated from their jobs when there was a change of administration in 2011. The net result of those reckless personnel changes is gross incompetence hence the mass fire at the Riverton City Dump and millions of precious tax paying dollars missing.
The Minister of Local Government and Community Development then went to indirectly blame the Minister of Finance for the Riverton City mass fire by saying he got some $150 million short in the budget he requested. Well the Minister of Local Government and Community Development has lost some $500 million which is more than 3 times what could have been used to fix the situation at the Riverton City mass fire.
The people of Jamaica cannot continue to hold a double standard of governance for the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party as the effects of that will be more fires, more taxes and more injustice.