Auditor-General wants police probe of JCTE

The Auditor-General is calling for the police or an anti-corruption agency to conduct a probe following the transfer of J$124 million by the Ministry of  Education to an entity identified as the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE) under questionable circumstances.
The Auditor-General wants the Ministry of Finance to take action against two senior officers in the education ministry, including the acting permanent secretary Dr Grace McLean, on the basis that they failed in their fiduciary duty.
The Joint Committee on Tertiary Education was placed in the spotlight last year following the revelation that its chairman was not cooperating with the office of  the auditor general.
The JCTE was said to have spent millions on a number of  social events for the Ministry of  Education and the Caribbean Maritime University. 
The Joint Committee for Tertiary Education was established by the Minister of  Education nearly 30 years ago as a special advisory committee.
Auditor-General Pamela Munroe Ellis has revealed that there is no evidence that any Education Minister has ever been involved in the appointment of  members to the JCTE or that there has been any government oversight of  the committee's operations.
The Auditor-General discovered that the Ministry of Education transferred $124 million to the JCTE over a 32-month period.
Of that sum, $94.9 million was related to educational programmes which the JCTE was carrying out under a MOU with the ministry. 
Mrs Munroe Ellis says that, to date, the Ministry has not been able to account for the use of  the $124 million. 
The Auditor-General's special report, tabled on Tuesday, reveals that the Chairman of  the JCTE in seeking to justify his refusal to provide the accounting records of  the committee for review by the Auditor-General, on the basis  that the JCTE had become a private entity which he registered in February 2019 under the name JCTE Limited.
He argued that the Auditor General therefore had no legal authority to review its accounting records. 
Despite the chairman's claim, the Auditor-General found that during the period February 2019 to June 2020, the Ministry of Education transferred $78.5 million to the JCTE using the Tax Registration Number (TRN) issued in 2017 on the basis that the JCTE was a government institution.
Mrs Munroe Ellis says if  the Education Ministry is accepting the position of  the JCTE Chairman that the ministry did business with a private entity, then this is a matter which must be further investigated.
She says this would determine whether a fraud was committed by a private institution using a TRN for a government entity to receive money under false pretence. 

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