An Auditor General’s report on the operations of a department of the Labour Ministry has found evidence of weak corporate governance practices and lack of proper planning.
The review was conducted on the Jamaica Liason Service, JLS, that oversees the Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Programme to Canada.
Among the recommendations contained in the report is to not allow the Permanent Secretary in the Labour Ministry to function as Chairman of the JLS.
There’s also evidence of improper monitoring of farmers once they get to Canada.
And, in one case there’s evidence that a senior member of staff was overpaid by more than 5-thousand US dollars, that was never recovered by the ministry.
The Auditor General’s report is dated November 2016. The review of the Jamaica Liaison Service, JLS, took place between April 2013 and March 2016. The Financial Statement for the 2015/2016 year was also reviewed.
The Auditor General’s report into the operations of the JLS found that there were a number of instances of conflicts of interest and actions unsupported by proper authority at the entity.
According to the report this is as a result of ‘the inappropriate concentration of power in the Permanent Secretary, who is also the Chairman of the Management Committee.
The Auditor General’s report pointed to an instance where a gratuity payment was made to a liaison officer without the approval of the board.
The report says this poor governance practice persists despite repeated reports on the issue.
Among the recommendations the Auditor General made is for Cabinet and the Financial Secretary to conduct an urgent review to separate the role of the Permanent Secretary and the chairman.
The Auditor General also found that a former senior employee was overpaid by more than USD$5,000 in the 2014/2015 fiscal year.
Up to the time of this report, the Auditor General says the money was not repaid. It was also found that the JLS didn’t submit reports to Cabinet.
In addition, the Auditor General says evidence of a lack of proper strategic planning, lack of proper budgeting and improper supervision and monitoring of farm workers in Canada was also found.
The report also found that employees weren’t appraised before given raises.
Further recommendations in the report are that the JLS should implement better monitoring and accountability practices.
The Canadian Farm work programme has been in effect since 1966. More than 9,000 people traveled to Canada last year for seasonal work.