Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Auditor General calls for truth and reconciliation session over CMU report

Published:Tuesday | June 2, 2020 | 12:00 AM
The auditor general has reported that on April 13, 2018, the CMU paid the full cost of US$621,132 to Business Supply Source (BSS) or Logistics Company 1, for sandwich panels and angle irons.

The Auditor General’s Department and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) are on a collision course with calls for a “session of truth and reconciliation” at the state-run educational institution.

At a meeting of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), CMU Project Manager Elaine Hayden, challenged the accuracy of a statement in the report.

But the Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis has rebutted.

The auditor general has reported that on April 13, 2018, the CMU paid the full cost of US$621,132 to Business Supply Source (BSS) or Logistics Company 1, for sandwich panels and angle irons.

She said on June 6, 2018, the CMU paid another US$368,303 to BSS for high beams, steel and other assembly materials.

But according to the Auditor General, the CMU had not previously included high beams, steel, iron and other assembly parts required for the construction of three-storey construction block at the Palisadoes-based institution.

At today’s PAC meeting reviewing malpractices at the CMU, Hayden said the auditor general’s claim was not correct.

“The engineering workshop was a three-storey building and the water table was considered to be higher, so the engineer revised the size of the steel beams, so we in fact got two sets of steel beams. It was not overlooked initially. It was a revision of the size of the steel beams and so we purchased an additional set of steel beams,” Hayden said.

Hayden also complained that the Auditor General’s team did not interview her on this matter.

According to Monroe Ellis, her audit began in January 2019 and was completed in mid-November with two iterations to her report.

The auditor general said Hayden had ample opportunity to provide a response and dispute anything that was in the report adding that it was the first time she was hearing much these complaints.

“I don’t think it is right that I sit here having a debate with Ms Hayden or anybody else for that matter about the veracity of the information in the report without being provided an opportunity to put together a response,” Monroe Ellis asserted.

Meanwhile, the special report on CMU indicated that BSS which submitted the lowest quote, in terms of bids, had attached the quotes of the other bidders with its submissions.

The auditor general said that she found no evidence that four of the other bidders authorised BSS to submit bids on their behalf.

Quizzed by committee member Everald Warmington on the process, Hayden said she did not “give Logistics Company 1 (or BSS) the bids. They provided the bids for the other bidders because we requested them to demonstrate that they were in fact a sourcing company”.

In January, Managing partner of the BSS, Leo Gilling, told The Gleaner that his company became involved after members of the CMU staff contacted the company with a figure for the project and asked, “Can you beat this bid?”

The BSS submitted the bid on March 13 and emerged as the successful bidder.

That’s a week after the March 6 deadline.

But Gilling said he was not aware of that deadline.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.