In a statement today, Mr Phillips said he was shocked, but not surprised at the level of breaches recited in the report. The Audit found weaknesses in the JUTC’s governance practices and internal control environment, which were manifested by a lack of financial transparency, breaches of the Human Resources Policy, minimal adherence to Government rules and regulations, including procurement law.
He said although it would not be fair to blame all the historical problems on the present management, the Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague must account for the litany of breaches under his watch.
The Shadow Minister says this is even more frightening, coming weeks before the re-opening of schools, and the movement of thousands of students across the KMTR.
In order for the necessary and immediate repair work to begin, PNP Shadow Minister said he was proposing that the Prime Minister assigns the Ministry of Finance portfolio responsibility for the JUTC to strengthen and realign the massive financial and human-resource problems and promote a new era of accountability and efficiency.
“The Performance Audit is an indictment of the Ministry, the Board of Directors and the Executive management of the company. The portfolio Ministry is deficient in its oversight responsibilities, particularly the PBMA and the Corporate Governance Framework, and the management was ineffective and sloppy in implementing strategies to improve operational efficiency and financial viability,” Mr Phillips said.
He said it is difficult to imagine a more damning report that could be received by any agency of Government than the Auditor General’s report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. In every area of the report, it was made clear that the JUTC failed comprehensively in executing its mission and mandate.
He said one could only conclude from the report that the combination of management, board and portfolio Ministry were on a frolic of their own, executing the political objectives. “They are a vehicle fit for purpose," Mr Phillips said.
“To begin with, in order to arrive at the current position where the senior management lacks the basic and requisite qualification, the JUTC separated itself overtime from competent and qualified management and set out to destroy any notion of meritocracy at the JUTC," he said.
This concern was pointed out by the Opposition from the outset. Consequently, Mr Phillips, said the present administration had turned the JUTC into a scandalous political feeding trough.
The PNP spokesman asked, “How else could one explain the JUTC recent record of recruiting, without advertisement, qualification or due process at a recurrent cost of J$1.1B, beyond the permitted establishment?”
“Hiring more people than needed or approved, having more mechanics than required; yet, more buses breaking down and at the same time outsourcing maintenance. All combined, this paints to a picture of clear and present danger,” he said.
Mr Phillips said he wished to remind the public that when the JUTC was created in 1998, it was to return dignity to the travelling experience for public passengers, which was hitherto characterised by shouts of “no schoolers” and slackness, and every man for himself - a ramshackle one man one bus operations.
The PNP reaffirms that the opportunity it provided, with the formation of the JUTC, was for a safe and modern system for students, pensioners, the disabled and workers, and not an opportunity to line the pockets of political appointees and activists.
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