PAC raps labour ministry over non-response to weaknesses identified by audit

PAC raps labour ministry over non-response to weaknesses recognized by audit

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior employees reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

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THE chief accountable officer within the Ministry of Labour and Social Safety (MLSS) discovered herself underneath sustained hearth yesterday because the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sought to unravel the explanations for the ministry’s non-response to 60 systematic weaknesses recognized by inner auditors over a number of years.

This concern and others had been flagged within the auditor basic’s annual report on the monetary transactions of the Authorities for the 2019-20 monetary yr. The report was tabled in Parliament on January 12.

In accordance with the report, the weaknesses recognized within the ministry’s operations had been vital and went way back to March 2017.

“As a part of good governance practices, administration ought to think about the work of inner audit as an necessary instrument that gives impartial assurance that an organisation’s danger administration, governance and inner management processes are working successfully. Nevertheless, the repetitive findings from the inner audit opinions and MLSS’s obvious non-responsiveness in addressing the inner management deficiencies, recommend administration’s lack of dedication in establishing and sustaining efficient inner controls to assist safeguard belongings and additional obtain its aims,” the report stated.

Auditor Basic Pamela Monroe Ellis stated the administration’s silence on the findings of the inner audit is worrying, as this unresponsiveness was additionally raised in a 2016 report by the Auditor Basic’s Division on the Nationwide Insurance coverage Scheme, through which it famous that 27 points raised from way back to 2011 weren’t addressed.

Everlasting secretary within the ministry, Collette Roberts Risden defined to the PAC that the failure to reply shouldn’t be interpreted as no motion being been taken by administration to deal with the problems.

“I wish to guarantee that 60 excellent responses doesn’t imply that over time line managers haven’t been responding to audits…I take advantage of inner audits as a administration instrument to assist me to know, in lots of cases, the weaknesses in a selected space – so generally the road supervisor might not have supplied particular person responses however now we have addressed [it] by altering procedures, altering personnel, and coaching folks. So I take actual exception to the Parliament and the folks pondering that I, as everlasting secretary, don’t take inner audit [as] necessary,” she said.

However committee members pointed to the absence of a paper path to proof any strikes which have been made to rectify the weaknesses offered within the Auditor Basic’s Division report.

“Within the absence of documentation which exhibits a response, the one conclusion that this committee may draw is that there’s a tradition of non-responsiveness,” PAC Chairman Julian Robinson argued. “What must be finished is a transparent path of enchancment to point out that the place these points have been raised, documentation [exists] to say they’ve been resolved.”

The auditor basic additionally stated the ministry flouted finances pointers by not acquiring the requisite approval for the reallocation of $36.36 million to facilitate extra expenditure — together with compensation — and the reallocation of one other $40.4 million. The ministry additionally did not submit the quarterly stories on the reallocations authorised by the accounting officer, to the monetary secretary.

The everlasting secretary attributed the breach to the ministry’s appropriations account not being present on the time and the necessity, for instance, to compensate employees appropriately.

“That is one thing we aren’t pleased with [but] there was a difficulty by way of the place employees had been labeled…this is without doubt one of the causes the ministry must have present appropriation accounts that let you know precisely the place the expenditures are going down – it is not that the ministry needs to function in violation of the rules. Workers had been employed to the ministry and had been being paid within the incorrect price centre; ought to now we have continued to pay them incorrectly, or ought to now we have despatched them residence?” she requested, declaring that the ministry has made vital makes an attempt to convey the appropriation accounts updated.

The everlasting secretary stated the state of affairs on the ministry had been inherited however she was not casting blame, because the techniques could possibly be strengthened by participating a compliance officer for the workplace of the everlasting secretary. She additionally suggested that an inner audit register will likely be applied to log and monitor points.

In accordance with the everlasting secretary, some motion has been taken in response to breaches, together with suspensions with out pay, demotions, and near-firings by means of non-renewal of contracts.

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