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Issuing of Report on the Audit of the Auditor General’s Department?

Alaina Hull

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The Jamaican government is about to concede to a long-standing demand from the opposition that it tables the report on the audit of the AGD. The report might be tabled on Wednesday in Parliament. Everald Warmington, the Deputy Leader of the House has been lending his voice for a fairly long period insisting that the government must share the details of the report. The actual presentation of the report for the benefit of the members may be made by Dr. Nigel Clarke, the Public Service Minister as announced in Parliament.

It is a Question of Propriety, Argues Warmington

The Auditor General’s Department is entrusted with the task of scrutinising the functioning of the various departments, ministries, and agencies that draw on public funds. However, the financial details of the AGD itself are never shared with the Parliament, let alone the public at large. The issue has been raised for the past 10 years by Mr. Warmington, but this is the first time the government has yielded. The consistent stand taken by him has been ‘No Government agency should be allowed to benefit from the public purse without providing its audited financials’. He may wait until the actual tabling of the report and its presentation before making further comments. But he is not fully satisfied.

Submit the Audit Reports on AGD for the Past 10 Years

Mr. Warmington draws attention to the fact that a revision of the FAA (Financial Accounts and Audit) Act was made in 2010 making it mandatory for the audit report coming from an audit of the Auditor General’s Department to be tabled in the House. Successive governments have been avoiding this. Now that this government has agreed in principle to table the last year’s report, the Deputy Leader of the House insists that he will not rest until the government brings forth the audit reports for all these years. It is not clear what precisely he is looking for in these reports, if anything. The only thing he has stated is that he has his reasons for asking for all the reports and he has also suggested that the reports be sent to a House committee for review.

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Jamaica News

Transfer Your Voter Registration by June 28 Urges the EOJ

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Registered voters must apply for a transfer of their voter registration by Friday, June 28, 2019. This is the message from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ). Transferring the vote is part of the process for updating the November 30, 2019 voter’s list.

If voters apply for a transfer of their voter registration after June 28, their process will not be completed before May 2020.

How to Apply for a Transfer of Voter Registration

The Electoral Office stated that the process for transferring voter registration is quite simple. The elector must visit the office of their constituency and apply for a registration transfer.  Furthermore, the applicant must apply at the constituency office where she currently lives. Once the elector makes the application the EOJ transfers the information from the polling division to the new polling division.

After the transfer is completed, the Electoral Office will publish the elector’s new address information in the updated voter’s list.

The Law Requires Applications To Transfer the Vote

The transfer of voter registration is necessary for persons who have changed addresses since the last time they registered or updated their information. Individuals often overlook this important step for keeping their voter registration up to date. It is not until General or By-Elections roll around that the matter of where to vote becomes crucial. The law governing elections requires the voter to vote in the polling division where she lives.

Even if the transfer is to take place within the same constituency, applying for a transfer of voter registration is still necessary. The Electoral Office of Jamaica, therefore, encourages Jamaicans who have relocated since they last updated their voter information to act now to avoid any difficulties.

Three Month Waiting Period

The EOJ noted that the elector must wait three months after applying for transfer before the office processes the application. After this period, one of the EOJ officers along with scrutineers representing the political parties – one each from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) will visit the address to verify that the applicant lives there.

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I Will Not Take a Side! Says Portia Simpson Miller

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I have not and will not take a side.”

The former President of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Portia Simpson Miller made this declaration recently.  Simpson Miller made her comment in a statement posted on her Twitter account two days ago. She also encouraged her party comrades to keep the leadership campaign respectful and clean.

Simpson Miller’s statement came in the wake of the PNP leadership challenge mounted by Central Manchester Member of Parliament, Peter Bunting. Bunting is seeking to unseat Dr. Peter Phillips who is the current President of the PNP.

Don’t Use My Name and Image

Also, Portia Simpson Miller asked in her statement that the campaign not use her name and image. Her request to distance her name and likeness from this potentially divisive campaign is in a bid to counter any speculation that she is in favour of either of the Peters. She did not want anything to suggest that she intended to take a side in this leadership race.

Further, Simpson Miller encouraged her comrades to campaign vigorously for their candidate. She, however, cautioned that they should be mindful that following an internal contest the party must continue its preparation for the next General Elections.

The next General Elections are constitutionally due in 2021.

Simpson Miller also declared that her first loyalty and duty are always with the People’s National Party.

Internal Election Date Not Confirmed

The PNP has not yet confirmed a date for the election of the leader. Initially, expectations were that the elections for a new party leader would be held in September during the party’s annual conference.

However, the party is to arrange the logistics for a special meeting of the party for the internal elections.  Dr. Peter Phillips had requested that the party settles the matter surrounding the leadership challenge early. He had no desire for this matter to drag on and interfere with the agenda of the September party conference.

Disquiet in the PNP over Upcoming Campaign

Supporters of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP). The party is now in the throes of a leadership challenge mounted by Peter Bunting.

Meanwhile, there is much division within the PNP among supporters of Dr. Phillips and Mr. Bunting. Party insiders also contended that the timing of Bunting’s challenge against Phillips was bad. Noting that internal leadership challenges will set the party back, the insiders condemned Bunting’s decision to mount the challenge at this time.

For his part, Peter Bunting defended his decision as the right one. One of his rationales was that the PNP under Dr. Phillip’s leadership will not succeed against the Andrew Holness led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next General Elections.

Each Peter contends that sufficient supporters are in his corner to ensure success in the internal elections.

So, as the leadership challenge unfolds, the PNP continues to be in the headlines. One could only wait for the final outcome of what can be considered an exciting contest between two contenders who believe they are the right choice for leadership of the 81-year old PNP ahead of the upcoming General Elections.

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Edna Manley College Principal Reveals More to Parliament Than College Board

Alaina Hull

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Edna Manley College is still being plagued by complaints of sexual harassment of students by a faculty member of the College, and no action being taken against him. In a strange development to this story, the Principal of the College, Dr. Nicholeen DeGrasse Johnson has revealed to a parliamentary committee that she had received a complaint about this lecturer, but had not initiated any serious inquiry into him to arrive at the truth. Moreover,  Marigold Harding, the Chairperson, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, has expressed surprise that the Principal chose to reveal this at the committee, but, has never informed her about it. Chairperson Harding feels the Principal will have to offer an explanation for her conduct.

Principal Queried Intensely at the PAAC

Principal DeGrasse Johnson was actually appearing before the PAAC in connection with the school’s accounts, contracts and whether the right procedures were being followed. One PAAC member, Leslie Campbell, however, started questioning her on this sexual harassment issue. It was during this questioning that the Principal revealed that it was one of the faculty members who had informed her as early as 2 years back that the students were complaining to her about a particular lecturer’s misconduct. While the right thing for her to have done at that time would have been to ask that faculty to obtain the complaints from the students in writing, she chose to let the issue pass. This fact came out during the questioning by the committee member.

School Management Taken Aback by the Principal’s Revelations

As mentioned, the immediate reaction from the Chairperson of Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has been one of shock. Harding says she and the Board of Management of the College have had several meetings in the past 2 years and never once had the Principal shared with her this information. Going further, the Chairperson has said there would be an emergency meeting of the Board on this issue and the Principal will be called in to answer to the Board on why she chose to speak the truth in front of the Parliament Committee and not to the Management of the College. The term used by Chairperson Harding is that the Principal has put herself in ‘jeopardy’. She expressed surprise that while there have been reports of sexual misconduct in the institution for so long, nobody from within the college had even informed her about it.

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