Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | January 8, 2013
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AG confirms NIC probe
AUDITOR GENERAL Pamela Monroe Ellis has revealed that her department has from early last year been working on plans to conduct a performance audit at the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).

Monroe Ellis comments come against the background of a letter sent to her in February 2012 from someone who raised questions about management effectiveness at the commission. She did not divulge the name of the person.

However, the auditor general confirmed that information reported by The Sunday Gleaner about questionable spending of money in December 2011 had been brought to her department's attention.

She did not divulge the source of the information.

Monroe Ellis told The Gleaner yesterday that her department would not change its plans to carry out the performance audit at the NIC, but during the probe would take into consideration reports of alleged impropriety involving the spending of millions of dollars.

Spending spree

The Sunday Gleaner reported that Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke had ordered a probe into the operations of the NIC following a pre-election spending spree at the commission.

The money was spent on December 23, 2011, days before the general election which saw the Jamaica Labour Party suffering a crushing defeat at the polls.

Among the alleged improprieties at the NIC are contracts valued at $2.43 million, which were all prepared and approved on December 23, 2011.

The paperwork for the contracts was marked urgent and speedily given the nod by the finance ministry.

Copies of the contracts show at least nine, valuing $270,000 each, which was payment for water supplied to farmers under the Water Harvesting Programme.

The contracts bore the names and addresses of the individual contractors, seven of whom are from St Mary and two from Manchester.

Additionally, copies of five pro forma invoices to hardware stores in Manchester and St Ann, totalling $342,507.12 for 11 1,000-gallon water tanks, are among the documents sourced by The Gleaner.

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