By Kimone Witter
It has been recommended that the Transport Authority take steps to recover the improper payment of $11.5 million to former Managing Director, Willard Hylton.
The recommendation is outlined in the Auditor General's Department's Special Audit Report of the Transport Authority's Human Resource and Administration practices and procurement transactions executed between 2017 and 2022 in response to allegations of breaches.
The report was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Mr. Hylton was appointed acting Managing Director of the Transport Authority on December 1, 2020.
According to the Auditor General's report, on March 1, 2020, the Transport Authority made payment of approximately $11.5 million to a contract officer who was purportedly terminated.
It said the termination letter did not set out the reason for separation, but instead indicated that the decision was based on discussions with the then board chairman, Joseph Shoucair.
But Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said her department was aware that Mr. Hylton, at the time of his termination on December 31, 2019, had already signed an employment contract on December 23, 2019 with Jamaica Ultimate Tyre Company Limited, as general manager, with an effective start date of January 1, 2020.
The Auditor General found that Mr. Shoucair authorised that payment be made to Mr. Hylton for a time not served on the contract, as general manager of human resource and administration.
Mrs. Monroe Ellis said Mr. Hylton was reappointed by the Transport Authority approximately one year later in a higher post, to act as managing director.
She said her department could not determine the reason behind the termination of the officer on the basis that his assignment at JUTCL, another public body, was converted to a permanent appointment the day following his separation.
The Auditor General said it was expected that the Transport Authority would have simply approved his transfer to another government agency.
She said on that basis there was no need to make separation payment to the officer, only to re-engage him a year later in a higher post.
The Auditor General found that the severance pay did not accord with Government of Jamaica Staff Orders and should be recovered.
Additionally, the former managing director's contract was not in line with the Board of Directors November 24, 2020 decision for the terms of engagement which should have been for 90 days and the position advertised thereafter.
Current managing director of the Transport Authority, Ralston Smith, told The Gleaner that he was reviewing the special audit report and would comment on it at a later date.
Meanwhile, the Auditor General's special audit report found that 40 positions on the Transport Authority's staff listing were not approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, while the contracts of three senior managers were not approved by the finance ministry.
These include Accounting Clerk Level 5, Administrative Officer Level 5, Court Liaison Officer Level 6, and Human Resource Officer Level 7.
The Auditor General has recommended that the Transport Authority ensure that its human resource practices are in keeping with its Human Resource and Administration policy.
It should also regularise its operations with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service pertaining to the unapproved positions and contracts.