PM Holness outlines measures to improve governance at CMU

Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 28). (Photo: Donald De La Haye, JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on Tuesday (January 28), outlined a number of measures that are being undertaken to improve the governance and management of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).

He noted that many of the measures, which cover human resource management, procurement, records management and financial accountability, are being implemented in response to recommendations by the Auditor General in her report on the operations at the institution for the period 2016-2018.      

Others predate the report.

Holness, who was speaking in the House of Representatives, said that a governance framework has been developed to guide the operations of the University. 

This will, among other things, ensure that appropriate monitoring systems are in place and that Board meeting minutes and other required reports are submitted to the portfolio ministry on time.

The Prime Minister further explained that CMU Board minutes and quarterly reports for the period 2018/2019 have already been submitted and are being reviewed, while the annual reports for all the outstanding years will be presented by May.

In respect of the recommendations for steps to be taken to strengthen control over the management of CMU’s bank accounts and to consider the appropriateness of maintaining 22 such accounts, Holness said that the new council will be asked to reduce the number and regularise signatories on those accounts.

On the matter of procurement, PM Holness said that extensive training sessions have been carried out in the areas of procurement rules and practices, human resource rules and practices, finance and administration, and overseas travel.

 An administration handbook has been developed and sent to the institution for printing and dissemination, and further extensive procurement training has been conducted.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be monitoring all significant procurement until the new policies and procedures are embedded,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister told the House that the Government has already replaced the CMU Council and a new body chaired by Professor Gordon Shirley named.

He said that the executive leadership of the CMU has developed a Board Charter, Declarations of Interest, Investment Policy, Donation Policy and Procurement Internal Procedures, which are awaiting the approval of the new Council.

 “I believe the corrective actions taken, to date, demonstrate the seriousness with which the Government regards the developments at the CMU and the imperative of improving the general administration of the University to restore the confidence of all its stakeholders,” he said.

In the meantime, Holness said in going forward, the new council will be asked to look at the university’s programme to ensure that it is fulfilling its core mandate, which is to cater to the development needs of the maritime sector and associated industries.

The institution will also look at ways in which it can have greater public/private partnerships; establish a governance committee as a subcommittee of the Council and employ an enterprise risk management system, with a risk officer assigned to ensure compliance with governance rules and best practices; and also to set up a risk and audit committee responsible for reviewing the work of the internal auditor.

The Prime Minister said that the Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission will be asked to lead a committee to review and make recommendations to the Attorney General for amendments to be made to the CMU Act.