Joint Committee For Tertiary Education
The Auditor General commissioned a special audit of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE) to determine whether its operations were aligned with its intended purpose and if funds transferred to the JCTE by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI) were expended in keeping with the Government’s guidelines and the Financial Administration and Audit (FAA) Act. This is in the context where an audit of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) had identified a possible conflict of interest between the JCTE and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI).
The audit of the JCTE commenced in December 2019, following our conclusion of the audit of the CMU. We experienced a limitation of scope during this audit owing to the JCTE Chairman’s refusal to provide the accounting records. The Chairman asserted that he privatised a Government entity and on that basis the Auditor General has no authority to review such records. The Acting Permanent Secretary suggested that she was helpless in the matter as she was unable to convince the Chairman of the JCTE to provide said records. The Acting Permanent Secretary also indicated that she had no knowledge of the Chairman’s private company and that the Ministry would cease doing business with JCTE. It is my opinion that the arguments of the Chairman, the Permanent Secretary and the Acting Permanent Secretary are unacceptable. The Chairman does not have the authority to privatise a Government entity. The Chairman’s private entity is separate and apart from the JCTE, special advisory committee established by the Minister of Education. It should be noted that the Acting Permanent Secretary permitted the transfer of $11 million to JCTE after her failed attempt to obtain the accounting records from the Chairman; despite knowing that the Chairman laid claims that he is the owner of the Company and refused to comply with the Auditor General’s request for information.
The Auditor General submitted a draft report of the JCTE to the Ministry of Education on 2021 June 22. The Ministry responded to the draft on, 2021 June 29. The Acting Permanent Secretary provided no additional supporting documentation as part of that response. However, the Acting Permanent Secretary submitted additional supporting documents on October 6, 2021, having been provided with a copy of the report that was scheduled to be sent to Parliament (please see appendix 1 and 2 for related response). The documents submitted included payment vouchers prepared by the Ministry supported by invoices prepared by JCTE. I advised the Acting PS that the information is insufficient as the documents provided do not represent suppliers invoices; which are required to determine how the funds were utilised.