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PNP calls for strengthening of accountability systems at Dunn's River Falls

Thursday, August 09, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The People's National Party (PNP) says reports of fraud at the major St Ann attraction, Dunn's River Falls and Park must be treated with utmost urgency and is calling on the minister with responsibility for the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Daryl Vaz to state what mechanisms are in place to protect the nation's revenue.

Concerns by members of the board of the St Ann Development Company (SADCO) about ticket revenue being generated at Dunn's River Falls and Park has prompted and investigation by the Police Fraud Squad, Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force and the Office of the Auditor General.

“Having regard to the strong earning potential of Dunn's River and its importance to the tourism product, the Minister with responsibility for the UDC, Daryl Vaz should state what mechanisms were in place to protect the nation's revenue, as well as the security of off-site ticket purchase transactions,” said Shadow Minister of Tourism, Dr Wykeham McNeill, in a release from his party.
He pointed out that the systems at Dunn's River Falls and Park currently facilitate pre-purchases of tickets through local and overseas agencies and proper checks and balances must be established to ensure full protection of the revenues.

The popular attraction, which is sad to be the largest income earner for parent company the UDC and an internationally recognised and awarded entity, rakes in top of $1.4 billion annually.

“The PNP understands that the current probe was sparked by the earth-shattering discovery of a dramatic fall in earnings despite significant increases in local and overseas visitors to the facility,” stated the release.

Dr McNeill said the Dunn's River debacle “once again signals the depth of corruption and theft in governance and that there is urgent need for a full-some and transparent review of all public agencies in order to stem the continued pilferage of the public purse”.

He added that: “only three months ago, the rates for customers to enter the venue saw a significant increase and at the time Dr Damian Graham, UDC's general manager, noted that a series of developmental and customer experience- enhancing projects were undertaken by the staff to boost the satisfaction of the local and international clientele. No mention was made of any mechanism to strengthen the accountability systems at the venue.”

McNeill claimed that the mountain of issues of corruption and fraud appear to be overwhelming the capacities of the nation's investigative agencies.

“The increasing number of corruption, nepotism and fraud investigations seem to be emerging one after the other, this is placing serious pressure on bodies like MOCA and the Auditor General, but these cases must be given priority treatment, as we cannot allow taxpayers' money to be wasted while critical areas of our society remain starved of resources,” he said.

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