The just released audit report highlighted the fact that the auditors were blocked or stymied in the process of doing their work by persons still employed at the attraction. These unscrupulous persons must be separated from the organization sanctioned for their inappropriate and criminal behaviour.
The PNP urges that in addition to the report being sent to the Auditor General, Mrs Pamela Monroe Ellis and the Counter Terrorism and Anti-Corruption Agency (C-TOC) for additional investigation, it should also be sent to the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), the Financial Investigative Division (FID), and the Integrity Commission.
While the country awaits the result from these investigative bodies, the authorities must make the necessary recommended administrative changes to protect the country’s revenue from exposure to embezzlement and misappropriation.
The audit report into the operations at the St Ann-based tourist attraction found a pattern of control failures, including financial mismanagement, insufficient management processes and gaps in information technology controls.
The report notes that the related exposure to the UDC can be estimated at up to US$1 million (J$128 million) in annual revenue losses.
Shadow Minister of Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, M.P., said the financial losses should have served as an alert to the authorities that something was awry because the falloff in revenue ran counter to the recorded growth in tourist visitors to the attraction.
“Reports of problems at Dunn’s River Falls surfaced long before any action was taken to investigate and address the issues. Clearly, this became a cash cow for whomever was able to get access to the ticket sales system,” Dr. McNeill said.
He said the UDC was asleep on the job and was not ensuring the protection of its primary source of revenue.
The PNP says this plundering of the world-renown attraction must be treated with the utmost urgency it deserves.
“Having regard to the strong earning potential of Dunn's River and its importance to the tourism product, everything must be done post haste to ensure that the operations of the facility can be secured and restored and opened for business,” the Shadow Minister said.
The popular attraction, which is said to be the largest income earner for parent company the UDC and an internationally recognised and awarded entity, earns more than $1.4 billion annually, and this revenue stream must be protected.
Dr. McNeill said the Dunn's River debacle “once again signals the depth of corruption and theft in governance and that there is an urgent need for a full-some and transparent review of all public agencies in order to stem the continued pilfering of the public purse.”
“Having seen this disgraceful and shocking report, it is no wonder the UDC chairman and board attempted to conceal it, as it is a sad commentary on their own stewardship and fiduciary responsibility.
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