Any morning that I head to the roof to watch the sun rise, I am never quite sure what I will see. Even as I climb the spiral staircase, navigating the narrow space left by the recently installed guttering, I am uncertain what will greet me. Like the morning I took this series of photos…a chilly, overcast morning. Grey was the main colour, as I sat and drank my tea. Little did I know the drama that was about to unfold!
A heavy bank of clouds hung low in the eastern sky, over a bowl where two hills overlapped. As the sunlight began to shine up from behind the hills, a pink pattern started to appear on the clouds.
I realised that nature was deciding to dance this morning and I was a lucky witness! Brighter pink and over a larger area of cloud…
And this was the finale! The sky on fire…transformed…
Tea forgotten; no journaling done. I watched, transfixed. Bathed in this sunrise surprise….
The long-awaited report from the Joint Select Committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act was tabled in the Parliament yesterday, December 11, 2018.
The review of the four Acts had its origin in a Private Members Motion tabled by then Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith in 2013. A previous Committee began the review in 2014, but didn’t complete the review before the general elections in 2016. The new Committee began its deliberations in January 2017 and held nineteen meetings. More than thirty submissions were made by entities or individuals.
I have not yet read the report in detail, but am posting it on my blog to provide a copy for those who wish to read and consider it.
Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and in recognition of that I thought I would post the Auditor General’s Petrojam report which was tabled in Parliament last Tuesday, December 4, 2018. In the days following its release, the report has been the focus of a great deal of discussion in traditional and social media, and has gained a lot of public interest. Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to have a media briefing tomorrow (Monday) morning and it is expected that he will address this issue during the briefing.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis’ Forward to the report reads as follows:
The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is a statutory organization created by the Petroleum Act, with the exclusive right to explore and develop the petroleum resources of Jamaica. It is also the Government agency charged with the responsibility for facilitating the development of the country’s energy resources in a manner that supports the overall strategy for national development in support of the National Energy Policy and Vision 2030 National Development Plan (NDP). PCJ’s subsidiary Petrojam’s primary function is to import and convert crude oil into various types of petroleum products for supply and use in the domestic market. Both PCJ and Petrojam’s governance practices and financial operations are subjected to the Public Bodies Management & Accountability (PBMA) Act, GOJ Corporate Governance and Accountability Frameworks and applicable guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS).
Stemming from public concerns regarding mismanagement at Petrojam, I commissioned a comprehensive audit using the performance, compliance and special audit methodologies, as well as financial statements assessment of Petrojam. I also reviewed specified areas of PCJ to assess whether its practices were consistent with the principles of good financial management and whether the practices accorded with GOJ Guidelines and good practices, to attain value for money. I also sought to assess whether PCJ provided robust oversight to Petrojam, based on its parent subsidiary relationship. This report is a compendium of the findings of the reviews of both entities.
The audit revealed a number of deficiencies, which have since been brought to the attention of the management of PCJ and Petrojam. I have proffered a number of recommendations for implementation aimed at strengthening the governance arrangements at both entities. However, I believe that these recommendations are of relevance to all public bodies and should be considered by the Office of the Cabinet and Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MoFPS) for sector-wide implementation.
Thanks to the management and staff of Petrojam and PCJ for their co-operation and assistance during the audit.
On page 6, there is a useful visual summary, but the report is worth reading in its entirety.
Auditor General’s Petrojam report, p 6
The Auditor General’s Reports
In 2016, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and Caribbean Vulnerable Communities published a review of the Auditor General’s reports for the period 2010 – 2015, which is a useful document to refer to in the current context.
The Executive Summary gives an indication of the purpose of the review:
“This report focuses primarily on the Auditor General’s Department, its work, the support it receives from the wider accountability environment and the level of responsiveness from other public officials (especially the Public Accounts Committee). The report looks at the crucial question of sanctions – who has the authority to sanction, what sanctions are available and are they being used.The research was undertaken against the background of decades long, public cries of concern for the lack of accountability, repeated reports of waste and public perception of corruption.
As coalitions of civil society groups, both the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition desired a fuller understanding of Jamaica’s accountability environment and if and how the public can strengthen the work of the Auditor General. Shedding further light on the auditor general’s findings and the state of governance as well as building understanding of the accountability framework in order to better use it are main goals of the research.” p. 8
Jeanette Calder, researcher and writer for this review and one of the people most familiar with reports of Auditor General’s Department, tweeted this the day after the Petrojam report was tabled in Parliament:
Former Contractor General Greg Christie has also tweeted about the Petrojam report, including the following:
International Anti-Corruption Day
December 9 is celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day.
“Corruption begets more corruption, and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity. The United Nations Convention against Corruption is among our primary tools for advancing the fight. Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets also offer a template for action.”
— UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
We wait to see how the government responds to this latest report and allegations of waste, mismanagement and corruption and whether we, the public, will resist the 9-day-wonder syndrome.