BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, June 24, 2016
With a number of government departments and agencies continuing to break the law by not submitting annual reports — some for more than 15 years — legislators are now working on hammering out a solution to the chronic problem.
According to a status document of annual report submissions to the Cabinet Office, up to June 2014 the Independent Commission of Investigations, Social Development Commission, Parole Board, University Hospital of the West Indies, and the Transport Authority are among those that have never submitted an annual report.
Under the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act, State agencies and departments are required to submit annual reports as soon as possible after the end of each financial year, but not more than four months thereafter.
According to the Act, the annual reports should include audited financial statements of the public body. The ought to be sent to the responsible minister who should ensure that the reports and statements are tabled in the House of Representatives and the Senate. At Wednesday’s meeting of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), at Gordon House, it was also reported that there are five agencies of the Ministry of Agriculture for which there is no record of an annual report.
The status document also lists some of the entities which are five years or more behind, such as the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, with 17 years of reports outstanding; the National Commission on Science and Technology, 15 years; the National Insurance Fund, seven years; and the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, five years.
“That is very worrying,” PAAC member Michael Stewart stated.
A team from the Cabinet Office, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Douglas Saunders, offered no real defence. “There are cases where we get an annual report, but the report for the previous year was not submitted, so we have to then point out that that has to come before. If there are unaudited statements, for example, we can’t send that to Cabinet. Cabinet has to do a kind of sifting there,” Saunders explained, but emphasised that these types of delays were rare. He said there are only four reports with similar gaps now with the office. more