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The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been in the news for the wrong reasons. An audit carried out by the Auditor General’s Department (AGD) has been very telling of the irregularities in the mishandling of the Force’s finances. One key area the audit has highlighted is the way tender processes were short-circuited. The other area where the AGD found serious irregularities was with their Motor Vehicle Policy.
Resorting to Much Too Frequent Emergency Purchases
AGD’s audit report covers five fiscal years, beginning 2013-14. The scrutiny of JCF’s purchase records for this period indicated that the Force resorted to too many last-minute procurements. These were mainly for food items served to the detainees or provision of uniforms to the officers of the Force. It is not uncommon for such emergency procurements to be made by any organisation. However, over a 5 year period, more than 80% of the purchases for such items were done through this option. The mandated process is to call for tenders and buy from the source that quotes the lowest price, for quality products. The figures too are staggering; J$1.8 billion out of J$2.2 billion spent, was for emergency purchases! Undoubtedly, the prices paid for these so-called emergency procurements were higher, causing loss to the exchequer.
Proper Inventory of Vehicles Not Maintained
The audit report by the AGD for the same 5 fiscal years ending 2017-18 goes on to mention that, even more losses could be attributed to the way the vehicles belonging to JCF were handled. “A weak inventory management system” and an “inadequate fleet management policy” were the flaws detected. Consider this; the engine numbers of a staggering 358 vehicles were not recorded with the JCF and records of another 40 vehicles did not show their chassis numbers.
In a more damaging charge, the AGD audit report says JCF’s inventory division could not account for service parts worth J$323 million. These findings could have serious implications. Now that the report has been tabled in Parliament, there is the possibility of those involved in the mismanagement or possible fraud being prosecuted. The only words of appreciation the audit team had for JCF relates to the initiative to cut down on fuel cost. A daily rationing system has been introduced and the consumption pattern is monitored.
One may surmise that since the whole exercise carried out by the AGD involved a security force of the country, the reports might not have included all findings, confidentiality being invoked.