Lessons from the Audley Shaw cell phone bill saga

The Audley Shaw cell phone bill saga is grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. To be sure, it’s an irresistibly salacious story, as it was when former minister Arnoldo Brown fell victim to excessive cellephony!

What should really occupy our minds though, is the wanton lack of financial management and control systems in the government of Jamaica establishment that fails to prevent, detect, report, control and correct this egregious profligacy and over spending of taxpayer funds.

What should really consume us, is this culture of scant regard and respect for taxpayers money that pervades the political mindset in Jamaica. Taxpayer dollars are placed in the hands of the government in trust and aught to be sacrosanct and managed with the highest levels of fiduciary obligation!

Undoubtably, this chronic and cancerous condition, predates the current minister and the casual control culture is not of recent vintage. It falls to him though, to immediately implement the policies and procedures to put a stop to this kind of poor financial management.

It must frighten us all that this has taken place in the MOF, which exits more than anything else to protect taxpayer funds. What’s happening in other government bodies? What’s happening in relation to gas, travel, entertainment, repairs and the myriad other expense headings.

Who in the MOF is responsible for tracking expenses against monthly budgets? Was the minister advised after a month or two that his phone expenses were way over budget? Where was the financial management? Where is the control and oversight that the same GOJ requires of all deposit taking and trust type organizations in Jamaica?