Dunn’s River Falls and Parks is the latest in a series of public sector bodies over the past months that have been rocked by scandal.
Several agencies under the former Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology have been embroiled in a growing web of corruption, nepotism, cronyism and even fraud.
“Having regard to the strong earning potential of Dunn’s River and its importance to the tourism product, the Minister with responsibility for the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Daryl Vaz should state what mechanisms were in place to protect the nation’s revenue, as well as the security of off-site ticket purchase transactions.” Shadow Minister of Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill said.
He explained that the systems at Dunn’s River Falls and Park facilitate pre-purchases of tickets through local and overseas agencies and proper checks and balances must be established to ensure full protection of the revenues.
News reports are that multi millions of dollars in ticket revenues at the Falls have been pilfered and that the police Fraud Squad, Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force, and the Office of the Auditor General are among the entities probing the case.
The popular attraction, which is the largest income earner for parent company the UDC and an internationally recognised and awarded entity, rakes in top of $1.4 billion annually.
The PNP understands that the current probe was sparked by the earth-shattering discovery of a dramatic fall in earnings despite significant increases in local and overseas visitors to the facility.
Dr McNeill says the Dunn’s River debacle once again signals the depth of corruption and theft in governance and that there is urgent need for a full-some and transparent review of all public agencies in order to stem the continued pilferage of the public purse.
Only three months ago, the rates for customers to enter the venue saw a significant increase and at the time Dr Damian Graham, UDC’s general manager, noted that a series of developmental and customer experience-enhancing projects were undertaken by the staff to boost the satisfaction of the local and international clientele.
No mention was made of any mechanism to strengthen the accountability systems at the venue.
Dr McNeill says the mountain of issues of corruption and fraud appear to be overwhelming the capacities of the nation’s investigative agencies.
“The increasing number of corruption, nepotism and fraud investigations seem to be emerging one after the other, this is placing serious pressure on bodies like MOCA and the Auditor General, but these cases must be given priority treatment, as we cannot allow taxpayers’ money to be wasted while critical areas of our society remain starved of resources.” Dr. McNeill said.
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